A new drive to encourage farmers and landowners across England to plant and manage more trees has been launched this week by the Forestry Commission and Defra.
The campaign draws attention to the grant schemes and free specialist advice available and highlights the range of public and environmental gains for biodiversity and people that growing trees on farmland can provide, including boosting biodiversity, providing access to nature, reducing soil erosion, absorbing carbon which can be sold as carbon credits and protecting communities downstream from flood risk.
Mark Tufnell, President of the Country Land and Business Association, commented on the announcement: “We would encourage landowners to consider how woodland creation could fit into their farm or estate and to look closely at the England Woodland Creation Offer.
“Planting up areas of marginal land can have many benefits for livestock, water, soil and wildlife management – as well as providing long term income from timber, carbon credits, and woodfuel.
“Funding for woodland creation is now much more attractive than before and so it is well worth considering for the least productive areas on the farm or estate. Woodland creation, alongside management of existing woodland, is one of the key ways to combat climate change.”
The campaign follows the England Trees Action Plan published last year which committed to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament to at least 7,000 hectares of trees per year in England.
This equates to just 0.08% of the 9.3 million hectares of farmland in England changing to woodland each year by the end of that period.
There are a variety of funding opportunities available to support the creation and management of new and existing woodlands, provided by both Defra, the Forestry Commission, and other woodland creation partnerships across England.
Through the Forestry Commission’s England Woodland Creation Offer, farmers and landowners will be paid to create new woodland on areas as small as one hectare (and that can be made up of smaller plots) – from small scale planting on marginal or unproductive land to large mixed woodlands.
More information about the campaign is available on the official website.