WD4: Management of lowland wood pasture and parkland

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the management of wood pasture and parkland option.

How much will be paid

£198£212 per hectare (ha)

Where to use this option

It’s available for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier and Higher Tier for:

  • managing existing wood pasture and parkland in good condition. Recreational parkland is only eligible where it forms part of the farmed environment
  • lowlands (outside the SDA)

For Mid Tier the land must be mapped on the Priority Habitat Inventory as wood pasture and parkland, see MAGIC.

In Mid Tier this option can only be used subject to eligibility checks.

It’s also available for Countryside Stewardship Wildlife Offers as part of the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package.

Features that can be included in this option

You can include the following features if they are part of the land, even if they are not eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS):

  • rivers, streams, ditches, drains and dykes or any open water less than 4 metres (m) wide
  • ponds or inland standing water less than 100 square metres
  • unsurfaced roads such as tracks, paths or bridleways
  • small areas of scrub and woodland that do not qualify for specific scrub, woodland or other options

Related Mid Tier options

You can locate the following options and supplements on the same area as this option.

How this option will benefit the environment

It will maintain existing wood pasture and parkland on sites that still support mature and veteran trees. If successful there will be many of the following, depending on whether the site is predominantly wood pasture, parkland or a combination of both.

  • Undisturbed standing and fallen deadwood that will provide habitats for invertebrates
  • Additional semi-mature or mature trees that will provide continuity of the tree population
  • Newly planted trees, spaced evenly with open crowns or patches of regeneration with space to allow open grown crowns to develop
  • Open grown scrub within the wood-pasture
  • Flowering trees and scrub such as hawthorn, crab apple and wild pear that will provide food and nectar sources for wildlife
  • Well managed unimproved or semi-improved grassland or heathland, grazed by traditional breeds of cattle in wood pasture and deer and traditional breeds of cattle in parkland
  • Well-maintained historic and archaeological features
  • Well-maintained historic designed landscape planting features


If you’re selected for a site visit, we will check that delivery of the aims is being met and the prohibited activities have not been carried out. This will ensure the environmental benefits are being delivered.

Throughout the year the site will be cut and/or grazed to maintain a mix of different grass heights, scrub and trees.

Existing trees (including mature and veteran standing trees) will be protected from livestock and wild animals, and any fallen dead wood left in place for invertebrates.

Scrub and grass swards will be managed to meet the additional aims stated in your agreement.

Historic features such as parkland fences, railings or historic boundaries will be protected from damage. An undisturbed strip at least 0.5m wide will be present adjacent to the edge of the feature.

Maintenance works and minor repairs on structural historic and archaeological features will be carried out on a ‘like for like’ basis to retain the character of the feature in its local setting.

The margins around water features will be managed by grazing and/or cutting to control scrub. Shrubs, scrub or trees will be prevented from shading more than 25% of the southern side of the water feature.

Prohibited Activities

To achieve the aims and deliver the environmental benefits, do not carry out any of the following activities.

  • Apply any fertilisers or manures
  • Use pesticides, except for herbicides to spot tree or weed-wipe for the control of injurious weeds, invasive non-natives, nettles or bracken
  • Plough, cultivate or re-seed
  • Supplementary feed
  • Harrow or roll
  • Allow damage to existing trees or vegetation or remove deadwood from the site
  • Carry out drainage works, including modifying existing drainage, without the RPAs written permission before work starts
  • Alter the depth, shape, profile and design of the built water body and associated engineering
  • Alter the current water regime of any water features.

On your annual claim you will be asked to declare that you have not carried out any prohibited activities.

In Mid Tier you can only use this option if it meets the relevant criteria and you have written approval from RPA. Additional aims and prohibited activities may be added to refine the standard requirements, as part of the approval process.

Recommended management

To assist you in achieving the aims and deliver the environmental benefits for this option, we recommend that you use best practice.

We recommend that you:

  • graze and/or cut to maintain area of closely grazed turf interspersed with taller tussocks
  • retain all mature and veteran standing trees and all standing and fallen deadwood, provided that it is consistent with the National Tree Safety Group document Common sense risk management of trees: landowner summary - you must leave fallen dead wood uncut and in place
  • protect existing trees to prevent damage from livestock and wild animals - manage tree guards to prevent any damage to growing trees
  • protect historic features such as parkland fences, railings or historic boundaries from damage
  • do not cultivate the undisturbed 0.5m wide strip adjacent to historic features and do not allow scrub to develop
  • maintain the current water regime of any water features carry out maintenance works and minor repairs on structural historic or archaeological features on a ‘like for like’ basis to keep the character of the feature in its local setting
  • retain the depth, shape, profile and design of the built water body and associated engineering without alteration
  • manage margins around water features by grazing and/or cutting to control scrub. Do not allow shrubs, scrub or trees to shade more than 25% of the southern side of the water feature. Control scrub and undesirable plant species so that by year 2 cover of the feature is no more than 5% (or as stated in the additional aims). All cut material should be removed.

In Mid Tier, additional clauses may be included to refine the standard requirements. These will be discussed and agreed as part of the approval process.

Keeping records

Where there is uncertainty about whether the aims of the options have been delivered, we will take into account any records or evidence you may have kept demonstrating delivery of the aims of the option. This will include any steps you’ve taken to follow the recommended management set out above. It’s your responsibility to keep such records if you want to rely on these to support your claim.

  • Any bank statements, receipted invoices or permissions connected with the work
  • Photographs of structural, historic and archaeological features
  • Photographs of the management taken
  • A monthly record of the number of grazing livestock in each parcel
  • Records of all management activity on the option area for each parcel
  • Photographs of the water feature, clearly showing its shape and design and all associated engineering features such as sluices, weirs, dams and other water control structures
  • Photographs of the water feature and surrounding buffers, clearly showing the extent of any areas of scrub, bracken or pernicious weeds
  • Photographs showing before and after shots of all maintenance works and minor repairs that have been carried out

Additional guidance and advice

The following advice is helpful, but they are not requirements for this item.

Veterinary treatments

Avoid applying veterinary treatments on grazing livestock wherever possible. Chemicals from these treatments could harm the insects and fungi that are typical of wood pasture and parkland.

Maintaining wood pasture and parkland

On historic parkland, provide a detailed feasibility study (management plan) tailored to the site. This can be an existing plan or can be funded through PA2 Feasibility Study item.

Use grazing livestock, preferably traditional breed cattle in wood pasture or traditional breed cattle and deer in parkland, to maintain the site. Avoid compaction around veteran trees.

Continuity of veteran tree or dead wood habitat is a major concern on wood pasture. If sufficient semi-mature trees are present consider the creation of dead wood habitat on trees capital item and encourage new trees through natural regeneration if possible or with planting.

Planting new trees

Try to:

  • space out newly planted trees (or patches of natural regeneration) so they are wide enough to grow an open crown
  • pick trees that are suitable as eventual replacements for mature or veteran trees
  • select tree species appropriate to the historic parkland design but consider varieties or provenances that are resilient to local climate change
  • on wood pasture or a site with veteran trees maintain the genetic stock of the veteran trees on site - choose varieties that provide the same ecological wood decay conditions as mature or veteran trees already on the site

Consents and permissions

Be aware that a number of consents and permissions may apply.

  • The Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and Conservation Orders may apply to the trees on site
  • Old trees especially can host European Protected Species, such as bats

Further information

Read the following guidance booklets for more detail on managing ancient or veteran trees.

Read Countryside Stewardship: get funding to protect and improve the land you manage to find out more information about Higher Tier including how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 1326 MarchMay 2023 + show all updates
  1. Increase in payment rate to £212 per hectare.

  2. This option is now available for Wildlife Offers as part of the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package.

  3. New payment rate from 1 January 2022.

  4. Updated to lowland

  5. 'Air quality' added to Land use.

  6. Option updated for agreements starting 1 January 2022

  7. Page refreshed and updated.

  8. Updated keeping records section for evidence required with claim.

  9. Updated for 2017 applications.

  10. Updated information for applications in 2016.

  11. First published.