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Farming in Protected Landscapes


Grants of up to £250,000 for farmers and land managers in the Cotswolds

What can you do for climate, nature, people and place – supporting our vision for the Cotswolds?

Funds are available to help farmers and land managers:

  • Develop better data, knowledge and skills
  • Purchase new equipment and upgrade farm infrastructure
  • Carry out land management activities
  • Host projects and events for other farmers and the public

For example, we’ve funded:

  • Farmland bird surveys, soil carbon analysis and habitat management training
  • Livestock handling facilities, footpath accessibility improvements and a flour mill
  • Species-rich grassland restoration, hedge planting and scrub clearance
  • Educational visits, citizen science events and farmer cluster facilitation

View full list of supported projects here

It’s a very flexible programme – applicants are invited to develop proposals based on their specific needs, interests and circumstances. If your idea delivers a fundable outcome for climate, nature people and/or place, you may be eligible for a grant. See below for a full list of fundable outcomes.

Grants can cover capital and revenue costs, up to 100% in exceptional cases. The level of funding offered depends on how much commercial gain a project may provide, in addition to delivering outcomes for climate, nature, people and place. See below for further details.

How to apply

To find out more about the programme, to request an application form and upcoming application deadlines, please:

A few key points to note

The application window is open now and remains open until all funds have been allocated – apply now for the best chance of success. The programme has now been extended until 2025.

Grants are for one-off projects that haven’t started yet and will be completed by 2025.

We’re administering the programme locally, supporting applicants through the whole process.

Once we’ve confirmed your project’s eligibility, we’ll usually arrange a site visit. We’ll also provide plenty of advice and guidance as you prepare your application for assessment.

The programme is open to all farmers and land managers in the Cotswolds National Landscape (AONB). Other organisations and individuals can also apply, as long as they do so collaboration with a farmer or land manager. See below for more details about eligibility.

The Local Assessment Panel meets every six to eight weeks to review applications and make funding decisions. If your application is successful, you can get to work immediately.

For more details, please see below and read the detailed funding criteria.

Key links and downloads

The story so far…

We have supported 81 projects with a total project value of £3.3m during the first two years of the programme.

Applicants have impressed us with the breadth of their project ideas in response to the themes of climate, nature, people and place. We’re also very pleased with how well the farming community has engaged with the programme in general, with lots of enquiries representing a good range of farm types, sizes and locations. Feedback has been very positive too – farmers appreciate the scheme’s flexibility and local administration, including the provision of advisors.

Looking towards 2025, when the programme is now due to close, we aim to keep building on what’s going well whilst also addressing opportunities for improvement.

First and foremost, we will continue to engage the farming community, generate new enquiries and support new grant applicants. We do expect competition to become a bit more intense, but we will also do our best to manage this and ensure everyone has a fair chance to access funding.


The Farming in Protected Landscapes grant programme is part of Defra’s Agricultural Transition Plan and was developed by Defra with the support of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Park staff from across England.

The programme funds projects that:

  • support nature recovery
  • mitigate the impacts of climate change
  • provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and its cultural heritage
  • protect or improve the quality and character of the landscape or place

The Cotswolds National Landscape was originally allocated a total fund of just over £2 million to be spent by March 2024.

In April 2023, Defra confirmed they would increase the allocation for the Cotswolds National Landscape by an additional £2 million and this must be spent by March 2025.

Funds are allocated on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. Apply now to stand the best chance of getting a grant.

Supported outcomes

The programme will pay for projects that provide value for money and result in at least one climate, nature, people or place outcome.

Your project must also support the priorities of our management plan for the Cotswolds. You can view guidance on how to link your project to the CNL Management Plan here.


Your project should deliver:

  • more carbon being stored, sequestered or both
  • reduced flood risk
  • a better understanding among farmers, land managers and the public as to what different habitats and land uses can deliver for carbon storage and reduced carbon emissions
  • a landscape that’s more resilient to climate change


Your project should deliver:

  • a greater area of wildlife-rich habitat
  • greater connectivity between habitats
  • better management of existing habitats for biodiversity
  • increased biodiversity


Your project should deliver:

  • more opportunities for people to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • more opportunities for diverse audiences to explore, enjoy and understand the landscape
  • greater public engagement in land management, for example through volunteering


Your project should deliver:

  • enhancing or reinforcing the quality and character of the landscape
  • historic structures and features being conserved, enhanced or interpreted more effectively
  • an increase in the resilience of nature-friendly sustainable farm businesses, which contributes to a more thriving local economy (you must deliver this along with other outcomes)

For example, the programme might fund projects:

  • promoting connectivity between habitats
  • replacing stiles with gates on public footpaths, for easier access
  • conserving historic features on a farm
  • supporting a locally branded food initiative, promoting the links between the product and the landscape in which it is produced
  • taking action to reduce carbon emissions on a farm
  • gathering data and evidence to help inform conservation and farming practice

Funding rates

You could get up to 100% towards the cost of a project, if you will not make a commercial gain.

If you will benefit commercially from a project, then the programme will fund a proportion of the costs. The amount depends on how much the project will benefit your business. Where there is a clear commercial gain, you can get up to 40% of cost. Where the commercial gain is more marginal, you can get up to 80% of cost.

The programme works alongside, not in competition with, Defra’s existing and new schemes to add value where it’s most needed. We will advise you if a potential project can be rewarded through other schemes.

If you want funding for capital items and management activities that are offered by another Defra scheme or programme, for example Countryside Stewardship or the Farming Investment Fund, we will match the payment rates offered. However, there must also be an acceptable reason why the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is the more appropriate funding option.

You can still get funding through the programme if you are in an agri-environment scheme, as long as you’re not paid twice for the same work.

Please read the detailed funding criteria. for more information.


Who can apply?

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers (including from the private, public and charity sector) in the Cotswolds National Landscape – or where activity on the ground can bring benefit to the CNL.

You must manage all the land included in the application, and have control of all the activities you’d like to undertake, or you must have written consent from all parties who have this management and control.

Other organisations and individuals can apply, as long as they do this in collaboration with a farmer or land manager, or in support of a farmer or group of farmers.

What land is eligible?

The programme supports activity on land within the Cotswolds National Landscape. It can potentially also support activity on land outside the AONB boundary, where there may be a direct benefit to the Cotswolds. However, we expect almost all of the funding will be offered to projects within the Cotswolds National Landscape (AONB) boundary.

You can see the AONB boundary by visiting the MAGIC mapping website. Click on ‘designations’, ‘land-based designations’, ‘statutory’, and then ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty England.

Land being used and managed for agricultural production, forestry, or as natural habitat, is eligible.

Common land is also eligible. You can apply as a landowner with sole rights, or as a group of commoners acting together.

Parks and gardens are not eligible.


Applications for less than £10,000 will be scored by a senior member of the team who has not been involved with or given advice to the application. This can be done at any time.

Applications for over £10,000 are judged by an assessment panel comprising members of the local farming community, specialists and other stakeholders. The panel aims to meet every six to eight weeks and applicants are usually notified of the outcome the following day.

Applications are scored:

  • 40% for project outcomes – climate, nature, people and place
  • 20% for value for money
  • 20% for how sustainable the project is or the legacy it will leave
  • 20% for how likely you are to carry out the project

The assessment panel may decide to make partial and/or conditional offers.

Further info

Please contact us if you have any queries or questions:

  • Call Scott on 07841 663 601
  • Email: