Natural England - Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship is an agri-environment scheme that provides funding to farmers and other land managers in England to deliver effective environmental management on your land.

Environmental Stewardship is closed for new 2013 applications.

New lowland ELS agreements will not generally be available in 2014. The scheme will be open for specific ELS applications (expiring 'classic' agreements and underpinning HLS), for OELS applications, for UELS applications and for HLS applications in 2014.

Please see the Transition page for more details.

How does Environmental Stewardship work?

There are four elements to Environmental Stewardship:

  • Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) provides a straightforward approach to supporting the good stewardship of the countryside. This is done through simple and effective land management that goes beyond the Single Payment Scheme requirement to maintain land in good agricultural and environmental condition.

  • Organic Entry Level Stewardship (OELS) is the organic strand of ELS. It is geared to organic and organic/conventional mixed farming systems and is open to all farmers not receiving Organic Farming Scheme aid.

  • Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (Uplands ELS) was launched in February 2010 to support hill farmers with payments for environmental management. This strand of Environmental Stewardship succeeds the Hill Farm Allowance. It is open to all farmers with land in Severely Disadvantaged Areas, regardless of the size of the holding.

  • Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) involves more complex types of management and agreements are tailored to local circumstances. HLS applications will be assessed against specific local targets and agreements will be offered where they meet these targets and represent good value for money.

Where can I find out more?

For more information about Environmental Stewardship read Look after your land with Environmental Stewardshipexternal link, call 0300 060 0011, contact your regional office or go to an event in your area for farmers and land managers.

Environmental Stewardship builds on the recognised success of the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.


  • Lapwing © Julian Dowse / Natural England

    A sweet tale of conservation success for sugar beet industry

    (20 November 2013)  Representatives from the UK sugar beet industry attended a practical event on a Lincolnshire farm recently to highlight the benefits that the sugar beet crop brings to the farmed environment.


  • Completed work on the bee boles in Glaisdale © North York Moors National Park Authority

    Bee bole conservation project

    (6 September 2013)  An old drystone wall near Glaisdale in North Yorkshire houses the largest number of ‘bee boles’ ever recorded in England and Scotland


  • Tree sparrow © Natural England

    Who will scoop this year’s RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award?

    (31 July 2013)  Voting is underway to pick a winner of the RSPB Telegraph Nature of Farming Award 2013. The judges have selected eight farmers from across the UK to go through to the final and now it’s up to the public to decide who they think should receive the prestigious award.


  • Charles 1 Bridge before restoration © David Prichard/Natural England

    Helping to bring a Georgian park landscape back to life

    (2 November 2012)  The high standard of a project that has helped return a historic parkland in Leicestershire to its former Georgian glory was highly praised at a prestigious Architectural Awards ceremony held in London on Wednesday 31 October.


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Online services for farmers

GOV.UK logo

GOV.UKexternal link now provides access to services such as RPA Online, ELS Online and Defra Farm Surveys and Assessments.

SPS Online

Each year over 100,000 farmers apply to the Rural Payments Agency for the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). SPS Onlineexternal link is the new electronic service that makes the application process quicker and easier.