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The Rural Stewardship Scheme 2005

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The Rural Stewardship Scheme

Introduction

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Photo: L. Gill - SNH

The landscape we have inherited in Scotland and the diversity of life within our country are the product of several billion years of geological activity and man's activities in relatively recent times since the retreat of the last glaciers from the Highland glens. The importance of achieving a balance between the sensitive management of our natural heritage in order to maintain and enhance that biodiversity, sustaining a viable agricultural industry and ensuring the long-term viability of rural communities is now well recognised.

In Scotland, schemes to encourage the adoption of environmentally-friendly farming practices have operated for a number of years now. Examples include the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Schemes which were first introduced in 1987, the Organic Aid Scheme which was introduced in 1994, and the Countryside Premium Scheme which was introduced in 1997.

This Booklet describes the Rural Stewardship Scheme, which covers the whole of Scotland and supersedes the Environmentally Sensitive Areas and the Countryside Premium Schemes.

The legislative bases for the Rural Stewardship Scheme are Council Regulation (EC) 1257/1999, Commission Regulations (EC) 445/2002, 963/2003 and The Rural Stewardship Scheme (Scotland) Regulations 2001, as amended on 30th June 2003.

The Rural Stewardship Scheme helps ensure that farming is a lead player in the protection and enhancement of our environment. The Scheme also plays a major role in sustainable rural development and helps to maintain the prosperity of our rural communities.

The Rural Stewardship Scheme is expected to evolve over time in order to benefit the environment and accommodate such projects as The Water Framework Directive and Custodians of Change.

Please take time to read the Booklet carefully before reaching a decision on whether to join the Rural Stewardship Scheme.