Date published: 21 January, 2022

The version of this page applicable to the AECS 2021 restricted round can be found in the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme full guidance archive.

For recent changes to this guidance, please see the bottom of the page.


In the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, many management options and some capital items are spatially targeted. This means they are only available in parts of the country where they will deliver the greatest benefit.

You can find out which options are available on the holdings that form part of your farm business by using our targeting tool. Please note that updates to spatial targeting maps may change the options that you’re eligible to apply for in this round compared with previous application rounds.

In exceptional circumstances, you may apply for a management option or capital item that is not targeted on your holding. However, you must meet the criteria in Table 1 (below) and you must obtain an endorsement before submitting your AECS application, as explained below.

If you include ineligible items in your application it will be rejected. You should read the guidance for each option or capital item that you wish to apply for. You should also read the terms and conditions laid out in How to Apply guidance.

Endorsements for protected areas (designated sites)

Designated sites are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and European sites. European sites are Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC); they were previously known as Natura sites.

You can apply for any management options or capital items which will benefit the notified features of an SSSI or European site (with the exception of the Hen Harrier Grassland Management option which is only available in Orkney), even if they do not appear on your list of targeted options.

This includes circumstances where the work will take place on your holding but partially or wholly outside the designated site itself, as long as the work can be justified as being required to benefit the notified features of the site.

You will need to submit an endorsement from NatureScot alongside your application. This needs to confirm that the option or capital item you have chosen will benefit the features of the designated site.

You can visit the NatureScot SiteLink website to check the location of the designated site.

You are strongly advised to seek advice from NatureScot well in advance of drafting an application for a designated site. If you do not, and NatureScot has significant issues with the management you propose for the designated site, this may prejudice the success of your application.

Please also refer to the Designations guidance.

Endorsements outwith protected areas

You can also seek an endorsement unconnected with a protected area if you meet the relevant criteria in Table 1 below.

How to request an endorsement

If you wish to seek an endorsement then you must submit a request to NatureScot using the form below.

You will need to request an endorsement in plenty of time, to ensure NatureScot has time to respond to you before the AECS application window closes.

If you are permitted an endorsement, you must submit this as a supporting document alongside your AECS application.

Check Table 1 below to see whether you meet the requirements to seek an endorsement.

In the endorsement request form, you are asked to explain briefly how each option or capital item meets the criteria for endorsement. NatureScot will clarify whether you need to provide any further evidence.

In most cases the endorsement will confirm that the options you have selected are eligible, will benefit the objectives of management and that the location in which you wish to carry out the management is appropriate.

Please note: If you have already received a NatureScot (SNH) endorsement for your 2015, 2016 or 2017 round contract, for the same option(s) on the same land, please submit this with your 2022 application. In such cases, you will not need to seek a new endorsement.

If you require any further advice about endorsements please contact NatureScot.

Table 1
Management option or capital item Criteria for endorsement outside target areas Endorsing organisation
Management or Restoration of Hedgerows The hedgerow has been created under a legacy agri-environment scheme. NatureScot
Unharvested Conservation Headlands for Wildlife Presence of corn buntings according to existing records. NatureScot
Wader Grazed Grassland

Wader and Wildlife Mown Grassland
You must meet one of the criteria below:

- you have provided evidence, from records held by an independent national wildlife organisation (e.g. RSPB), that curlew, lapwing or redshank have been recorded breeding on the proposed management areas in at least one breeding season within the last five years

(Where data does not exist for the proposed management area then you may commission independent surveys to establish that curlew, lapwing or redshank were breeding in the proposed management area in at least one breeding season before seeking an endorsement)


- alternatively, you have provided evidence you are part of an established wader project with confirmation from the wader project officer that the fields entered for management are used for nesting and feeding
For either of the above, you must supply a completed vulnerable priority species recording form setting out:
- which waders you are targeting
- on which LPIDs
- the evidence of the target wader species recorded on each LPID.
Wader and Wildlife Mown Grassland within spatial target area for Corn Buntings Mown Grassland option You may apply for endorsement to adopt the Wader and Wildlife Mown Grassland option instead of the Corn Buntings Mown Grassland option if you provide a statement from local RSPB staff confirming that there are no nesting corn bunting that would be affected by the earlier cutting dates. You must include this statement when submitting the endorsement form to NatureScot. NatureScot
Moorland Management

Stock Disposal

Away Wintering Sheep

Summer Hill Grazing of Cattle
Presence of a habitat on your holding that would benefit from management under one or more of these options, including blanket bog and wet heath.
Robust justification will be required if you want to adopt associated options such as Stock Disposal, Away Wintering Sheep, Summer Hill Grazing of Cattle.
Tall-herb Vegetation Management Presence of tall herb vegetation which would benefit from management under this option. NatureScot
Control of Invasive Non-native Plant Species The land on the holding is part of an area-wide, coordinated strategy for controlling invasive plants, or you are the first land manager in your area to have the invasive plant species on your land. NatureScot
Rhododendron Control The land on the holding is part of an area-wide, co-ordinated approach for controlling a whole population of rhododendron; and work is essential to control or prevent invasion of a notable site (Special Area of Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest or ancient semi-natural woodland site); and/or necessary to secure another investment in controlling a population of rhododendron. NatureScot
Any management option or capital item to benefit a designated site (SSSI or European site) The choice and location of option(s) and/or capital item(s) will benefit the feature(s) of the designated site and the land meets the option eligibility requirements. NatureScot
Any management option or capital item to benefit pearl mussels The choice and location of options and/or capital items will benefit freshwater pearl mussels out-with a designated site. NatureScot

Please use the form below to submit a request for endorsement after taking account of the criteria in Table 2.

Table 2
Management option Criteria for endorsement
Endorsing organisation
Species rich grassland

Habitat Mosaic
If the land proposed for management under either option is hill and upland rough grazing, you can only apply for these options if you are awarded an endorsement from NatureScot.

The endorsement application requires you to provide supporting evidence that target habitats are present, by submitting either:

• a Phase 1 habitat survey that demonstrates the presence of the target habitats,


• an existing National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey demonstrating the site contains the target species

This evidence must accompany your Endorsement form.

Section Change
1. Seeking endorsement for options or capital items outwith their target area.
Various minor updates to the wording and layout.

Click 'Download this page' to create a printer-friendly version of this guidance that you can save or print out.