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The new Environmental Land Management scheme

Heal's response to ELM

The UK government is changing the way that payments for land management are made, to support climate and environmental goals.

The new scheme is called Environmental Land Management (ELM).


Payments to landowners will be made for delivering 'public goods', like biodiversity, carbon capture, clean water and clean air. Defra are running a consultation, which closes on 31 July 2020. 

The draft ELM scheme does not mention rewilding nor any alternative wording, like 'nature-driven land management' or 'nature-managed land holdings'. We think this is a major oversight for multiple reasons. 

On 29 July 2020 we submitted this response to Defra's ELM consultation. We are really proud of this detailed and carefully referenced 29-page submission and it was only possible with the support of a team of nine Heal Helpers, who gave us high-calibre input, read our drafts and commented on them. We're really grateful for the advice they gave us and the research they did.

We hope that the points we make in our submission are given serious consideration by Defra. 

For those without the time to read it, these are the most important proposals in it:

  1. ELM should explicitly refer to rewilding (or an equivalent term) as an approach to managing an entire area of land.

  2. ELM is about land management, not just farming, so the framing of ELM should encourage all those responsible for land management – from golf courses to brownfield sites to grouse moors – to manage that land better for climate, nature and people.

  3. The links in ELM between the scheme and nature recovery networks, and the scheme and public access, should be much stronger.

  4. The scheme should confirm clearly whether nature-managed land (rewilded land) will qualify for ELM and to ensure that the design of ELM administrative processes would not exclude rewilding projects because they are not species specific.

  5. Defra should commit to having at least one rewilding project in the National pilot. 

  6. Defra should Include more explicit mentions in ELM of climate adaptation and mitigation benefits, particularly water management. Specifically, they should design ELM to enable bundling and stacking of different payments for ecosystems services/carbon offsetting/green prescribing.


We also submitted these two schematics (click on them for larger version) to show how we see rewilded land holdings fitting into ELM and act as biodiversity hubs in the wider landscape.

HEAL DIAGRAMS_REVD-01 - revised.jpg

(Thanks to volunteer designer Oliver Baldock who produced these)

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