Developing a site plan

Benefits of a site or land management plan

A management plan is a tool that will help you:

  • understand the environmental value of your holding
  • consider opportunities and risks
  • structure your thoughts and make decisions
  • adapt your holding for changing or new uses
  • plan maintenance works and care for your holding long term
  • write ‘briefs’ or schedules of work for yourself or contractors
  • seek investment from others for landscape-friendly management of your land
  • prepare for the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (if you hope to receive support from the scheme).

It may also save you time and money in the long term.

Often it is the process of producing the plan that is most helpful, not the written plan itself. If you just produce a management plan because you think decision-makers or funders want you to, the process – and the plan – will be of limited benefit.

Please see below some step-by-step advice for developing your own plan. You can also download some example plans being used at farms across the High Weald for inspiration.

Who to involve

A management plan process is a good way of bringing together people who will be important to the success of your management plan. Taking their views into account can bring new ideas and help resolve possible conflicts.

Before you start

It is often useful to gather as much information about your holding as possible, decide what is environmentally important and consider the many options for improving environmental management. You may wish to understand more about your holdings:

  • history and archaeological features
  • habitat and species
  • soils and carbon footprint.

You may also wish to understand how management of your holding could help with nature recovery at a local or landscape scale.

The AONB team can you help you at this stage. We can provide historic maps and information about other projects or opportunities in your part of the High Weald.

Plan focus

You can produce a management plan for just some elements of your holding, or you can produce a plan for your whole holding.

A whole farm plan would set out your ambitions for:

  • Soils
  • Woodland including deer management
  • Hedges
  • Grassland
  • Wetland, including ponds
  • Archaeology and historic environment
  • Public access and views.

Plan format

There are many templates for management plans available on the website.

These templates can be overwhelming. It’s important that the format of the document that you produce can be used on a day-to-day basis to help you manage your site and make decisions.

As a starter it is often useful to get a few thoughts down on a blank sheet or scribble your ideas on a map (which can be even easier).

All plans should include:

  • Information on your holding’s landscape value and opportunities for improvement including maps
  • Your vision – what do you want to see/feel/hear on your holding in 20+ year’s? What do you want to change?
  • Objectives based on this vision
  • Actions needed to achieve these objectives, being as specific as possible
  • Goals, both sort and long term
  • Costs These are often not included in plans! But it is helpful to think about what can be done with existing resources (easy wins) and what may require more investment.

Using consultants

You might find it difficult to produce a management plan at the same time as carrying out your day-to-day activities. Consultants can be helpful; they can undertake some of the research and analysis and write up findings. However, it is important that you are closely involved, and the process and plan is helpful to you.

Some consultants produce whole farm plans whilst others specialise in certain aspects of land management, for example woodland management plans. Some will specialise on maximising the financial return on your land, others will specialise in maximising the environmental value. Being clear about your vision and objectives before you employ someone to write your plan will help you find the right professional.

If commissioning a consultant, ensure you:

  • write a good brief setting out your requirements (and those of the funding body if relevant) clearly and concisely
  • explain how you plan to use the information in your plan and how you would like to the information to be presented.

You should ask the potential consultants to give you:

  • a statement setting out how they will go about the work
  • clear information about costs
  • examples of other conservation management plans that they have written.

High Weald AONB Partnership current operating the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme (FiPL) which can provide funding for management plan development.

Click the button below to visit our dedicated webpage.

Talk to us

Can’t find the information you need? Find details for the High Weald AONB team and other organisations who might be able to help: