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Bracken Management Programme for Habitat Enhanceme

Option closed to new applications


The aim of this Option is to support bracken management to enhance habitats such as heathland and grassland. Bracken invasion is a threat to a wide range of habitats, including those on designated sites, whilst at the same time it can be a valuable habitat in its own right.

What this will achieve

This management Option aims to prevent the loss, to bracken, of existing habitats of conservation value, including heathland and grassland, and to restore, enhance or maintain their open nature. This will encourage the regeneration of characteristic native plants and provide breeding and feeding grounds for associated wildlife. The aim will not always be to eradicate bracken; sometimes it will be to maintain a patchy or sparse cover to benefit species associated with bracken. The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species that may benefit include Juniper, Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Northern Brown Argus, Slender Scotch Burnet, Black Grouse and Skylark.

What you can do


You must prepare and implement a systematic programme of treatment and follow-up actions, as specified within a Bracken Management Plan (BMP), to be submitted with the application. Choose an appropriate method of control in accordance with published guidance

Your plan must describe the following, and show on a 1:10,000 scale map, where indicated:

  • the habitat(s) of conservation value which will benefit from the bracken management - stated in hectares and shown on your map
  • the extent of the bracken - stated in hectares and shown on your map
  • the density of the bracken cover - see descriptions in published guidance
  • the area of bracken to be actively managed - stated in hectares and shown on your map
  • the type of management you propose (eradication or control or no action) and the treatments you propose to use to achieve this, including any follow-up action
  • where you propose to eradicate or control bracken, the type of vegetation you expect will replace it
  • any sensitive areas/buffer zones where there should be no bracken control - shown on your map.

The Bracken Management Plan must identify the locations of sensitive areas and appropriate buffer zones, including the following:

  • where plant or animal species of conservation value are present and are likely to be damaged by the control method, e.g. ferns damaged by spraying, or nesting birds damaged by mechanical control
  • in gullies or steep slopes where regeneration of more desirable vegetation will be difficult or impossible to achieve and soil erosion may result
  • close to ponds, lochs or watercourses, if chemical control is proposed
  • where there is a well-developed woodland flora, e.g. bluebells, under the bracken canopy
  • archaeological features which might be damaged by mechanical control.

An additional payment is available for primary treatment of bracken as a capital item, where the need for more intensive initial control methods has been identified within the Bracken Management Plan Primary treatment must be carried out in year 1 of the Plan.

If you are proposing to use chemical control you must seek consent from the appropriate bodies. These include SEPA, your local water authority, SNH and your local authority environmental services. A certain period of notice is required.

If you are proposing to use mechanical methods to control bracken, then you must cut or crush the bracken three times each year at appropriate stages during the growing season.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this management Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available where the management of bracken will enhance an existing habitat of conservation value.

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

Please see Definitions of Land Types page for more details.

What costs could be supported

Support will also be available toward the cost of certain associated Capital Items. For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following is an example 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 item, 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 £28 per year per hectare of land managed under this Option. 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, 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:

  • Bracken Management plan is being carried out
  • 1:10000 scale map shows area in hectares covered in bracken on the holding and area in hectares of bracken to be managed.
  • Sensitive area and buffer zones are identified on the map and that no bracken control has taken place within these areas.
  • You have consent from SEPA, local water authority, SNH and local authority environmental services if chemical control has taken place.
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards.

List of links to relevant technical guidance

Minimum requirements for Fertiliser and Plant Protection Products - detailed guidance

Minimum requirements for protection of historic or archaeological features

'On the spot' inspections - overview of the inspection procedure