Date published: 25 January, 2023
For recent changes to this guidance, please see the bottom of the page.
The aim of this option is to benefit a range of moorland habitats, including upland heath and peatland habitats, by maintaining appropriate levels of wild and domestic stock. It is also intended to protect sensitive peatland areas at risk of soil erosion from herbivore trampling and vehicle tracking.
Moorlands cover a range of habitat types from dry and wet heath through to blanket bog. It can also include some grasslands. Sustainable grazing levels and careful use of vehicles will ensure that both the vegetation and soils remain as intact and undisturbed as possible. Moorlands support a range of important wildlife and biodiversity, and peatlands in particular can contribute to climate change by storing carbon.
This option is an entry option for all upland management, including peatland restoration, where livestock and / or deer are present. It provides a foundation to build in additional options or capital items where further benefit to the habitat or species present can be achieved from undertaking works such as grip / ditch blocking, stock reduction, muirburn or summer cattle grazing. A full list is given below.
Land that is rough grazing and where livestock and / or deer are present is eligible.
You should not include areas of land covering rocks, scree, water, dense bracken etc. We will check this using the same approach we use to check land for the Basic Payment Scheme.
This option is available within the target area shown on this map. It may be possible to apply for this option outside this area where there is strong justification as endorsed by NatureScot.
You can check if this option is available on your holding using the search targeting tool which can be found on any of the following AECS guidance pages:
You must prepare and submit for approval a moorland management plan using the template below and provide all supporting documentation requested.
Where livestock are present, the plan must detail your current livestock numbers.
You must also identify on a 1:10,000 map the location of proposed supplementary feeding sites and routes where you plan regular vehicle use.
You must also submit the following plans where appropriate:
Deer Management: You must submit a Deer Management Plan if you are responsible for controlling deer numbers and you are applying to AECS for Moorland Management for deer or for deer and livestock. If you are responsible for controlling deer numbers but not seeking AECS funding for deer management you do not need to complete the Deer Plan template; however, your Moorland Management Plan must detail current deer numbers, their location and current and proposed deer cull targets.
Muirburn and Heather Cutting: The Muirburn and Heather Cutting capital items are not available in the 2023 AECS round. If you plan to undertake muirburn or heather cutting at your own expense on a designated site within your AECS application area, during the lifetime of the AECS contract, you MUST submit a Muirburn Plan, so that there is a record of where and when work will take place, to allow the case officer to assess whether this is appropriate to the site. For non-designated sites, you must provide detail within the Moorland management plan of any muirburn you intend to undertake.
Bracken Management: The capital items for chemical or mechanical control of bracken are not available in the 2023 AECS round. If you are applying for manual control of bracken you must submit a bracken plan using the template below.
Below is a real life example Moorland management and grazing plan with associated maps to assist you. Please note this uses the previous version of the template so is purely illustrative to indicate the level of detail required.
You must manage the same location and extent each year for the duration of your contract.
- where livestock are present, you must maintain agricultural livestock activity on the area subject to payment
- where livestock are present, you must adhere to the grazing regime which defines livestock units and grazing dates in your moorland management and grazing plan
- you must not carry out supplementary feeding outwith the area(s) shown in your plan, unless you have prior written approval
- you must not cause vehicle rutting out with the vehicle use areas identified in your plan (the definition of rutting is where the soil is both depressed and bare soil is exposed)
- where you are applying for payment under this option for managing deer, you must maintain deer culls as agreed in your plan and send your annual cull returns to NatureScot
- you must not cut peat without prior approval
- if approval has been given to cut peat by hand, you must replace the turfs on top of the cut surface, with the vegetation side on top
- you must not undertake muirburn, unless you have prior approval
- do not plant trees, unless you have prior approval
- do not undertake any drainage work, unless you have prior approval
- you must maintain a diary
You can claim:
- where managing livestock only: £3.60 per hectare per year
- where managing deer only: £1.24 per hectare per year
- where managing deer and livestock: £4.84 per hectare per year
There are separate capital items to support moorland management, which could include, but are not restricted to:
- Ditch Blocking – Peat Dams
- Ditch Blocking – Plastic Piling Dams
- Muirburn and Heather Cutting
- Primary Treatment of Bracken – Manual
- Primary Treatment of Bracken – Mechanised or Chemical
- Open-range Deer Management
- Upland Habitat Impact Assessment for Deer Management
- Deer Census – Helicopter Counts
- Stock Bridges for Bog, Fen or Wetland Management
The following management options can support moorland management:
The inspectors will check:
- where livestock are present, you have maintained agricultural livestock activity on the area subject to payment
- where livestock are present, you have adhered to the grazing regime which defines livestock units and grazing dates in your moorland management plan
- you have not carried out supplementary feeding out with the area(s) shown in your plan, unless you have prior written approval
- you have not caused vehicle rutting out with the vehicle use areas identified in your plan (the definition of rutting is where the soil is both depressed and bare soil is exposed)
- where you are applying for payment under this option for managing deer, you have maintained deer culls as agreed in your plan and sent your annual cull returns to NatureScot
- you have not cut peat without prior approval
- if approval has been given to cut peat by hand, you have replaced the turfs on top of the cut surface, with the vegetation side on top
- you have not undertaken muirburn, unless you have prior approval
- you have not planted trees, unless you have prior approval
- you have not undertaken any drainage work, unless you have prior approval
- you have maintained a diary
Updated moorland management template and Deer Management Plan template.|
Updated guidance for Deer Management.
Muirburn and Heather cutting and Bracken Management for chemical or mechanical control of bracken are not available in the 2023 AECS round.
|Management requirements||Plan templates for Deer Management, Ditch blocking Muirburn and Bracken Management moved to Application requirements section|
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