B1. Agricultural and forest area under environmental management schemes

B1a. Area of land in agri-environment schemes


Type: Response Indicator


Indicator Description

Agri-environment schemes require land managers, including farmers, to implement environmentally beneficial management and to demonstrate good environmental practice on their land. The higher-level or targeted schemes promote environmental management aimed to: conserve wildlife; maintain and enhance landscape quality and character; protect the historic environment and natural resources; and promote public access and understanding of the countryside. The entry-level type schemes aim to encourage large numbers of land managers, to implement simple and effective environmental management on their land.




In 2017, the total area of land in higher-level or targeted agri-environment agreements in the UK was 2.8 million hectares: 1.4 million hectares in England; 0.4 million hectares in Wales; just under 1.0 million hectares in Scotland; and 0.1 million hectares in Northern Ireland.


Fluctuations in areas of land under agri-environment agreements over time can occur as a result of the introduction of new schemes and the ending of previous scheme agreements. Existing agreements will continue until they expire


Figure B1ai.  Area of land covered by higher-level or targeted agri-environment schemes, 1992 to 2017.


Figure B1ai. Area of land covered by higher-level or targeted agri-environment schemes, 1992 to 2017.



  1. The following schemes have been included as higher-level or targeted agri-environment schemes::

    England: Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA), Countryside Stewardship, Higher Level Stewardship (which includes ELS linked to HLS) and from 2016 new Countryside Stewardship (Higher Tier and Mid Tier). England Mid Tier and Higher Tier schemes of the new Countryside Stewardship both contribute to B1ai.

    Scotland: ESA, Countryside Premium, and Rural Stewardship, Rural Priorities, and from 2016 Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.

    Wales: ESA, Tir Cymen, Tir Gofal, Glastir Advanced and Decoupled Advanced (from 2016).

    N Ireland: ESA, Countryside Management, and Environmental Farming Scheme (from 2017).
  2. Higher level schemes have stricter criteria for qualification than other agri-environment schemes.

Source: Department for Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland, Defra, Natural England, Scottish Government, Welsh Government.


Assessment of change in area of land covered by agri-environment schemes


Long term

Short term

Latest year

Higher-level or targeted schemes

indicator improving

2010 indicator declining2012–2017

Increased (2017)


Download Fiche

Download Datasheet


Last updated: July 2018

Latest data available: 2017