The Rural Stewardship Scheme
18. Management of Water Margin
Aim: To protect water margins from erosion and permit development of tall waterside vegetation, e.g. tall herbs and other flowering plants, scrub and trees that will help to stabilise the bank and provide a habitat for invertebrates, on which fish can feed.
Some BAP species that may benefit: Water vole, Otter, Pipistrelle bat, Marsh fritillary, Freshwater pearl mussel.
Eligible sites: Inbye land which borders still water or a watercourse having a bed width of not less than 0.6 metres and which -
- in the case of a site bordering still water, has a minimum width of 12 metres and a maximum width of 24 metres.
- in the case of a site bordering a watercourse with a bed width of less than 1.2 metres, has a minimum continuous width of 5 times the bed width of the watercourse, a minimum overall width of 6 metres and a maximum width of 12 metres.
- in the case of a site bordering a watercourse with a bed width equal to or greater than 1.2 metres, has a minimum width of 6 metres and a maximum width of 12 metres on any one side.
Bats such as the Pipistrelle use these waterways for feeding
Photo: John Robinson
- Livestock must normally be excluded. Exceptionally, livestock grazing at no more than 0.6 LU/ha may be permitted in September and October with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers.
- Where trees exist or are to be planted within a water margin, care should be taken to ensure that there will be no excessive shading of the water. It may be appropriate to plant occasional native-species trees and shrubs along a water margin to benefit such species as the Pipistrelle bat.
- The site must be maintained by the control of statutory weeds, giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed and, as the case may be, by clearing the watercourse of any obstacle.
- Fertiliser, including slurry or farmyard manure, must not be applied to the site.
- Pesticides may be applied only with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers.
- Mowing of the site may be permitted with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers where necessary to control rank vegetation of low conservation value.
- No supplementary feeding may occur on the site.
- Where fencing under the water margin option prevents stock from having access to traditional watering places, the provision of water troughs may be aided under the Scheme. Alternatively, an access point can be fenced off separately from the water margin being managed, but not through an area for which payment is being sought.
Mature trees and open areas along riverside
19. Management of Flood Plain
Aim: To create and maintain a mosaic of wash lands and dry lands by allowing the watercourse to overflow onto its natural flood plain.
Some BAP species that may benefit: Irish lady's-tresses, Reed bunting, Pipistrelle bat.
Eligible sites: A site that forms all or part of a flood plain where -
- part or parts of the flood plain are included in the undertaking as the site of another management activity; and
- the flooding of the site would not adversely affect other agricultural land.
Flood plain of meandering river in Argyll
Photo: © Kilmartin House Trust
- The natural flooding of the land must not be hindered and
- Cultivations must not be carried out within 12m of the water's edge (mean summer water level).
- Additional management specific to each site must be agreed with Scottish Ministers.
Other important information:
- The management payment is made where the whole flood plain is allowed to flood naturally at time of high water level creating a mosaic of wash lands, dry lands and wetlands. The watercourse must be allowed to flow naturally, with any impediment to natural flooding removed. This will occur where the watercourse meanders through a relatively flat area and the overall area may also contain various different habitat types, some of which will be subject to management payments as wetlands, herb rich grassland etc.
- The flood plain management payment will be in addition to payments for management of specific areas of habitat within the flood plain.
- Often, the management of a flood plain will involve more than one occupier and perhaps landowner. Applicants choosing this option must ensure that the interests of adjoining landowners are not prejudiced by any change in management. In practice this means that the Department will not approve an application for flood plain management unless either the flood plain is a discrete area, all of which is occupied by the applicant, or if all other occupiers of the affected land have applied for this option.
20. Management of Basin and Valley Mire Buffer Areas
Aim: To conserve and enhance the buffer zone surrounding basin and valley mires by maintaining water levels and preventing enrichment through runoff from fields. The aim is to support the range of plant and animal communities found in these wetlands.
Some BAP species that may benefit: Sphagnum (bog mosses), Bog bean, Bottle sedge, Willow carr, Lesser tussock sedge, Slender green feather-moss, Dragonflies.
Site criteria: Improved inbye or arable land surrounding a basin and valley mire. Basin and Valley Mires as identified by SNH.
- The wetland area must be managed in accordance with the requirements of the Management of Wetlands option.
- The surrounding area of catchment must be managed as a grass buffer - this is to reduce the risk of nutrients applied to adjacent crops leaching into the wetland area. The external boundary of the buffer area will be defined by SNH but the grass must be at least 10 metres in width.
- If it does not exist on entry to the Scheme, the grass buffer must be established in the first Spring following approval by sowing a suitable mixture of grass seeds for which an additional payment is available.
- Fertiliser, slurry or manure must not be applied to the buffer area.
- Scrub control and the use of pesticides may be allowed only with the prior written agreement of Scottish Ministers.
- A grassland management regime must be set out and agreed with the Scottish Ministers. The grazing regime for the grass buffer will be that adopted for the wetland area.