£15m woodland creation grant opens for applications

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

The Forestry Commission has opened a new tree planting grant scheme, the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), for applications.

With £15.9 million available in its first year, the scheme is set to provide greater financial incentives for landowners and farmers to plant and manage trees.

Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley, commented: “This exciting new grant offer is flexible to allow landowners to create a woodland that meets their own objectives.

“From planting a small one hectare block, a strip of trees along rivers to reduce flood risk, to large mixed woodlands.

“This improved grant gives everyone the opportunity to see woodland creation as a financially and environmentally rewarding option. This will help with our journey to reach net zero by 2050.”

The new grant scheme will support the creation of a range of woodland types and sizes, including along rivers to improve the water environment, through natural colonisation where woodlands are created through natural processes by trees which grow from seeds which fall and germinate there and where their location and design will provide public benefits, including greater access.

The grant can cover 100 per cent of eligible standard capital costs of woodland creation, meaning costs are covered for buying and planting the trees, and then maintaining them for 10 years.

Additional financial contributions are available for well-designed woodland that provide ‘public and wider environmental benefits.’

Additional contributions will be available for:

  • nature and species recovery – between £1,100/ha to £2,800/ha available where woodland creation will help woodland-dependent priority species to recover;
  • tree-planting near watercourses and rivers (riparian buffers) – £1,600/ha available where the creation of native broadleaved woodland along water courses will improve river habitats.
  • reduced flood risk – £500/ha available where woodland creation can help reduce the risk of flooding.
  • improved public access – £2,200/ha available where woodland creation will provide long-term permissive access to the public to enjoy.
  • close to settlements – £500/ha available where woodland creation will provide social and environmental benefits by being close to people.
  • improved water quality – £400/ha available for woodlands that clean our water by reducing pollutants through land use change by intercepting pollution and sediment before it reaches watercourses.

EWCO will be designed to allow farmers to make the most of green finance opportunities.

For example, applicants will be supported to register their planting under the Woodland Carbon Code wherever eligible, to allow the future sale of high quality woodland carbon credits to private buyers.

The government aims to maximise private investment in new woodlands and will regularly review its approach to additional contributions to maximise private investment and direct public funding where it is most needed.

The England Woodland Creation Offer is also set to address wider barriers to woodland creation by ‘improving regulatory processes, consultation arrangements and advice and guidance as part of the application process.’

More information about about the England Woodland Creation Offer and how to apply is available on the UK Government website.