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Conservation Management for Small Units

Option closed to new applications


This Option provides support for managing a mosaic of habitats of conservation value across small units, through the implementation of a management plan. It also encourages collective applications from within a crofting community.

What this will achieve

This Option will help to maintain and enhance the distinctive landscape and wildlife of crofting communities. More intensive husbandry methods and a move away from keeping cattle and cropping have led to a decline in wildlife on farms and crofts. By following some environmentally friendly management practices you can help wildlife to flourish again. If small units within the crofting community work together in a co-ordinated way, the benefits are much greater.

What you can do


  • You must prepare a Conservation Management Plan for your whole unit (including all of the in-bye and any apportionments but excluding any share in the common grazings).
  • You must submit this Conservation Management Plan as part of your Proposal (that is, as part of your Outcome Plan with Specialist Input).
  • You may manage parts of your unit under specific agri-environment Options, for example the Species Rich Grassland Management Option, and the remainder under the Conservation Management Plan for Small Units.

The Conservation Management Plan must:

set out clear environmental objectives and describe how you will manage the unit to meet these objectives

describe all relevant activities on the unit that contribute to these environmental objectives, both those undertaken through other Options as well as those activities carried out under Conservation Management for Small Units. Activities undertaken under the Conservation Management for Small Units could include:

  • arable cropping
  • managing grazing across the whole unit
  • managing habitats or features of special interest, including BAP habitats and species at little or no cost, for example, converting awkward field corners to rough grassland or planting these areas with shrubs or trees to benefit BAP species.
  • removing or screening eyesores - covering the screening of storage areas (including middens), buildings and infrastructure, but not the screening of derelict machinery or removal of waste, fly-tipping and other rubbish or any action required as a condition of planning consent or permitted development.

You must carry out all the activities described in your Plan.


Collective applications: we will pay a higher rate for preparing a Conservation Management Plan for four or more small units from the same crofting community.

Who can apply

You can apply if the area of in-bye land occupied by your business is no more than 20 hectares excluding any apportionments, house and steading.

Eligibility criteria

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option. However, you may undertake other Options on land that is managed under Conservation Management for Small Units Option where they complement or contribute to the delivery of your Conservation Management Plan.

All Options are compatible with the Conservation Management for Small Units Option except the Biodiversity Cropping on in-bye and certain activities under the Enjoyment of Rural Landscapes Option (that is: restoring existing stone dykes and walls and screening intrusive structures, storage areas, infrastructures) cannot be adopted on the land being managed under this Option.

Undertaking additional Options, such as the Management of Species Rich Grassland Option, will not reduce the area that is eligible for payment under the Conservation Management for Small Units. For example, a proposal covering an area of 15 ha of in-bye land could enter 15 hectares under the Conservation Management for Small Units, and also enter 2 of these hectares under the Species-rich Grassland Option.

Please see the Definition of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed for

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

Rate of support

This is a 5 year commitment.

We will pay you

  • the cost of implementing and monitoring the Conservation Management Plan; £180 per year per plan or
    a Premium rate for implementing a Collective Plan with four or more holdings; £275 per year per collective plan
  • We will also pay you £25 per hectare per year for the area of in-bye land that you manage under this Plan excluding any apportionments, house and steading.
  • We will pay for these items at the end of each year.

The Conservation Management Plan forms part of your Outcome Plan. It is submitted with your Proposal and payment will be as for an Outcome Plan with Specialist input: 50% of actual costs up to a maximum of £400 in a one-off payment on production of a valid Proposal.

Please note the advice below when completing your online application form.

Online application

When completing your application you will be asked to enter the hectares managed for each field. The cost of implementing and monitoring the conservation management plan, £180 per year or £275 per year for a collective plan, is fixed and is added automatically. You do not have to enter this information.


The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirement to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Minister's guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures, for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Compliance with agreed Conservation Management Plan
  • Area of in-bye occupied by the business is no more than 20 ha.
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards

List of links to relevant technical guidance