Landscape Recovery DEFRA Test & Trials

Using academic input and regional knowledge to inform DEFRA’s Environmental Land Management Scheme. The Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery Scheme and the Landscape Recovery Scheme are being introduced across England as a replacement for subsidies under the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Basic payments are being reduced and phased out.  

The future schemes are set to replace the current system of funding for farmers and will reward farmers and land managers to deliver ‘public goods’ such as flood risk mitigation, clean water and healthy soils supplied by their land. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is running Test and Trials. This Test and Trials project involves informed thinking on the design and development of the three environmental land management schemes, to contribute towards the design of its new flagship Environmental Land Management (ELM) programme.  

iCASP and academics from the University of Leeds are hosting a ‘Test’ for DEFRA to provide insights from farmers and professional partners alongside academic knowledge to see if academic expertise and local knowledge is useful for farmers in applying for Landscape Recovery projects. The Land Recovery scheme represents a new approach to supporting long-term, significant habitat restoration and change of land use. The Test builds on the ongoing work led by iCASP at the University of Leeds including CONSOLE, Global Food Security Resilient Dairy Landscapes and the H2020 BESTMAP projects. 

Data Collection 

Data has been collected for this project by engaging with land managers via workshops and interviews which will contribute to an iCASP report for DEFRA to help inform the implementation and future direction of the Landscape Recovery scheme (LR). 

The Test and Trials project involves working with the South Pennines and Esk Valley farmer networks in Yorkshire supported by the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund (CSFF). Two workshops have been held with each farmers group, the workshops looked at the Landscape Recovery Scheme finance and legal issues. 

At each workshop, the farmers and landowners were presented with current information on the Landscape Recovery scheme and then were able to ask academic experts questions on the topic. Furthermore, participants were asked for their views on the national Landscape Recovery Scheme (LRS) and how landowners could come together to propose projects that would recover and restore England’s threatened native species or restore England’s streams and rivers. 

Researcher Rhys Woodfin (Ph.D.) has completed over 20 in-depth interviews with regional stakeholders, land owners and ecology experts. He has interviewed people including representatives from Yorkshire Water, Denton Estate, the Forestry Commission and Natural England about their views on the Landscape Recovery Scheme in Yorkshire. 


Project Team 

Prof Guy Ziv, Prof Micheal Cardwell, Prof Pippa Chapman, Dr Bill Kunun – University of Leeds 

Dr Manolis Tyllianakis, Research Fellow, University of Leeds 

Rhys Woodfin, iCASP intern 

Duncan Fyfe, iCASP programme manager 

Emma Cowan, iCASP project assistant 


December 2021 – September 2022