The Hill Farming Allowance (HFA) will be replaced in 2010 by the Uplands Entry Level Stewardship (UELS), which will pay farmers with land in Severely Disadvantaged Areas (SDAs) for environmental benefits provided on their land. The main objective is "to maintain and improve the biodiversity, natural resources, landscape and historical value of England’s uplands, and to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, by supporting the land management practices which deliver these benefits." A secondary objective is to contribute to genetic conservation, especially of hardy native sheep breeds and hefted flocks.
It is intended that a monitoring programme will be carried out to assess the outputs in terms of scheme uptake, and outcomes in terms of management changes, environmental deliverables, farmer attitudes and effectiveness of advice. This project is a scoping study to develop a specification for the monitoring programme, including the establishment of a baseline, within the limitations of timing and cost set out in the tender documents. The project will specify alternative methodologies, with indicative costs, that meet the stated requirements. These will include possibilities for the direct and indirect measurement of outcomes, modelling and the use of case studies. The project will also consider the potential for integration with other relevant work.
A fully interactive approach is proposed, which would allow all of the five partners to contribute to all components of the specification, according to their expertise and inclination. In this way, the widest possible range of insights into the various methods available will be captured. A workshop will be held at which each aspect of the monitoring programme will be examined in turn, and potential approaches considered, along with the necessary timescales and estimated costs involved. Notes of the workshop discussions will be converted into a first draft of a report, which will be circulated to all other partners for input and comment. Further drafts of the report will be circulated until all partners are satisfied with the outputs.
In order to provide Defra/NE with the full range of possibilities, the report will consider a range of options at different levels of costs. These will be analysed according to their relative advantages and disadvantages to assist with selection of the most appropriate way forward.
Types of methodology considered will include analysis of uptake data, farmer surveys and field surveys. It will not be possible within the timescale and budgetary constraints to measure outcomes relating to all objectives directly, so assessments will need to be devised that measure indicators which can be used to model impacts on the target environmental variables. A range of monitoring approaches, from remote, indirect to on the ground will be assessed for cost and level of confidence to allow optimal choices to be made. The study will also consider the potential for use of various datasets to assist with scaling up results from surveys to regional and national level. The final report will summarise the costs and benefits of the most promising options and make recommendations as to the most cost-effective approaches.