Orchids growing at Weem meadow SSSI near Aberfeldy. July 2016 ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

Management agreements

Management agreements are legal contracts over land, usually protected areas. We use them to support natural heritage management.

A management agreement (MA) involves NatureScot making payments to a land manager in return for an agreed programme of work. We typically offer MAs for Natura sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

MAs usually run for five years. Very rarely, the timescale may be longer or shorter if this is necessary to realise the full natural heritage benefits.

We may register a longer-term or higher value MA against the land title to ensure that management continues even if there’s a change in occupancy.

SRDP vs management agreement

The Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) is the main source of funding for rural Scotland. We encourage land managers to seek SRDP support if we believe management is needed to improve the special features of the land.

If SRDP can’t provide such support, and we see management as a priority, we may offer support through an MA. Such a situation may arise if SRDP options don’t cover specialised management or the land manager is ineligible for SRDP.

Eligibility for a management agreement

We may offer an MA to any land manager who has the right to carry out the agreed management during the contract.

We won’t offer an MA where a land manager:

  • receives other public support for the same activity
  • is in financial difficulty

Eligible costs

Our support to land managers is to fund site-specific natural heritage management. It isn’t intended to cover normal agricultural production costs. The following costs are eligible for support.

Annual management costs

Up to 100% of income foregone/additional costs (under Commission Regulation [EU] No. 1408/2013). Covers ongoing day-to-day running costs.

Cost of management works

These costs may be supported by using standard rates or paying for up to 100% of the actual costs of management (under articles 14 and 29 of Commission Regulation [EU] No. 702/2014). Covers one-off works or investments where the benefits accrue over a period of more than one year.

Investments most often supported include:

  • provision of stock fencing
  • scrub removal
  • removal of invasive plants – e.g. bracken, rhododendron
  • ditch blocking
  • tree removal
  • provision of alternative stock watering

Advice costs

Advice on site-specific natural heritage management requirements (under articles 22 and 39 of Commission Regulation [EU] No. 702/2014). The full cost of advice (up to 1,500 euros per advice, paid directly to the adviser) will be supported where there is no economic benefit to the land manager.

Legal basis for management agreements


  • Section 15 of the Countryside Act 1968 (as amended)
  • Section 49A of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967
  • Section 16 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
  • Section 2 of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991

European (State Aid)

Commission Regulation [EU] No. 702/2014 declaring certain categories of aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union (the ‘Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation’).

The specific articles are:

  • Article 14 (Aid for investments in tangible assets or in intangible assets on agricultural holdings linked to primary production). Covers only non-productive investments.
  • Article 22 (Aid for Advisory Services). Aid provided under this Article shall support the Union priority for rural development in accordance with Commission Regulation [EU] No. 1305/2013, Article 5, paragraph (4) “restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, with a focus on the following areas: (a) restoring, preserving and enhancing biodiversity, including in Natura 2000 areas, and in areas facing natural or other specific constraints, and high nature value farming, as well as the state of European landscapes”.
  • Article 29 (Aid for investments in favour of the cultural and natural heritage located on agricultural holdings).
  • Article 39 (Aid for advisory services in the forestry sector).

Commission Regulation [EU] No. 1408/2013 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid in the agriculture sector (the ‘Agricultural de minimis Regulation’). Particular reference should be made to Articles 1 and 5 (paragraph 3) regarding the cumulation of agricultural de minimis aid with any other form of aid covered by the block exemptions and use of other form of de minimis.

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