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Management of wetland

Option closed to new applications


The aim of this Option is to support the management of in-bye wetland areas for the benefit of plants, birds and invertebrates.

What this will achieve

This Option will support the diversity, spread and structure of wetland plant species within in-bye wetlands. These areas provide a food source for livestock and benefit associated insects, mammals and birds. They can also act as flood storage zones and help to reduce the impacts of flooding downstream.

The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that will benefit include Marsh Fritillary,
Great Crested Newt, Water Vole, Reed Bunting, Snipe, Skylark, Otter, Water Beetles, Bog Sedge, Bog Bean, Dragonflies and Damselflies.

What you can do


The key to grazing wetlands is to monitor the ground conditions and the available forage for your livestock. The benefit of grazing for wetland species is greatest once the flowers have set seed, during drier spells of weather that generally occur at the end of the summer. Stocking at this time of year removes excess vegetation and creates hoof size patches of bare ground suitable for seed germination.

The sward can be lightly grazed in spring and early summer but livestock should be removed by the end of May in most cases.

A livestock management and grazing regime must be set out in a plan to be agreed with the Scottish Ministers. Your plan must reflect the specific biodiversity requirements of the site and may be subject to change as the site develops.

Evidence to support the management proposed in your plan must accompany your application, e.g. a letter of support from, or a reference to advisory material produced by a recognised conservation organisation.

The plan must:

  • identify the type and area of wetland community to be managed
  • describe the outcome that will be achieved and how it will be achieved
  • include a statement to outline the method of control of rank vegetation growth
  • outline control measures for woodland and scrub if appropriate.


  • grazing of farm livestock must be managed to create a sward with a range of heights across those areas of the wetland where grazing is practical. The height of the vegetation at the end of the grazing period will range from 2 cm to up to 30 cm in some places
  • the sward will be at its tallest during the summer, with short sedge swards extending to between 10 and 15 cm and fen sedge communities growing up to 50 cm. Reedbed will be taller and often of a more uniform height
  • livestock should be removed from the site when ground conditions are such that poaching is likely to occur
  • build up of plant litter from the previous year's growth will occur where grazing is less intense in wetter areas. These areas are important for hibernation of insects. However, rank growth and litter accumulation should not be extensive unless the area is a reed-bed
  • no supplementary feeding may occur on the site
  • aim for 30% of the vegetation to be in tussocks or patches over 50 cm in height. The vegetation should also include a mosaic of shorter and/or taller plant species
  • grazing of drier rank areas can be enhanced by the addition of late summer cutting (in August and September) followed by a period of aftermath grazing until the ground becomes too wet for grazing
  • after cutting you must remove the cuttings where it is practical to do so to help reduce nutrient levels and avoid smothering the sward
  • do not apply fertiliser including slurry or farmyard manure to the site
  • do not apply pesticides to the managed area except with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers for activities such as spot treatment of scheduled weeds (i.e. creeping, spear or field thistle, curled or broadleaved dock and common ragwort) or non-native invasive species (i.e. Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Rhododendron ponticum or Japanese knotweed).
  • where management is for the Great Crested Newt, you must provide hibernacula.

It is important to bear in mind the conservation benefits this Option is intended to deliver. Where there may be a problem with the development of woodland or scrub on a particular wetland site, your plan will also need to outline the necessary control measures as an additional requirement.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

Salt marsh and reed beds and in-bye wetland are eligible for this Option

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see the Definitons of Land Types page for more detail.

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:

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.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £90 per hectare of land managed under this Option per year. We will pay at the end of each year.


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 requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' 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 grazing plan
  • Evidence to support grazing plan from recognised conservation organisation
  • No poaching of the site has occurred
  • No supplementary feeding on the site
  • Visual check to ensure no fertiliser/ FYM/Slurry has been applied to the site
  • Pesticide records to ensure pesticides have not been applied to the site, except with prior written permission of Scottish Ministers
  • Provision of hibernation facilities if management is for the Great Crested Newt
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards


List of links to relevant technical guidance