The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has today (Monday, November 7) opened of the latest round of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund.

The application window will remain open until January 25, 2023.

In line with their local Countryside Stewardship priorities, the £2.5 million fund encourages collaboration between farming and landowner groups and supports government efforts to improve the environment and create cleaner landscapes.

“By joining forces on shared environmental ambitions, farmers and landowners are able to deliver a greater positive impact on our landscape than they could ever achieve alone,” farming minister, Mark Spencer said.

“This Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund is already helping to bring farmers and landowners together for the benefit of nature and the environment, and I encourage farming communities across England to consider applying.”

Chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency, which administered the Countryside Stewardship, Paul Caldwell, said he was delighted to provide farmers and landowners with another opportunity to come together on projects to improve their local environment.

“We want to see uptake from new and existing groups to deliver large-scale environmental improvement in their local areas, create valuable connections and share farming knowledge,” he said.

This is the seventh round of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund under the current Rural Development Programme for England.

180 groups with over 4,000 members have benefited from the funding so far, with this round of funding expected to benefit more than 40 further groups.

Previous projects to have benefited have included exploring measures to reduce flooding along the Glenderamackin river in the Lake District; improving farmers’ understanding of ground nesting birds in the Upper Nidderdale; and helping to reconnect farmers with nature and improving their confidence in conservation farming in the White Peak

The chief executive of Natural England, Marian Spain, said the farmers and landowners who take up the scheme make a vital contribution to delivering the government’s environmental commitments, including the statutory target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030.

“By bringing groups of land managers together in pursuit of positive habitat management and species re-introductions, the facilitation fund leads to long-term initiatives for nature recovery where partnerships strengthen delivery on the ground.

“Natural England works closely with farming groups and we look forward to supporting further groups via the fund as they nurture wildlife-rich habitats that provide clean water and air and underpin sustainable food production,” she said.