100% grants for forestry training in England in 2024
100% grants for forestry training in England in 2024

100% grants for forestry training in England in 2024

A Forestry Training Fund has been launched to cover training costs for short, practical forestry courses – although new applicants will have to wait a year to benefit.

The Forestry Commission is making funding available for people considering a change of career or seeking to build and diversify their skills in forestry and who want to undertake a forestry-related training course.

It is not restricted to foresters – so anyone can apply. This is excellent news for farms and rural estates with people wanting to increase their forestry skills.

The fund offers 100% funding for eligible courses – which include coppicing and chainsaw maintenance, woodland management, pesticide use, deer stalking, marketing timber, fencing and hedge laying.

The application process looks straightforward – it is a case of choosing a course from the approved list of courses and training providers and sending an application to the FC.

Once approved the FC will pay the trainer directly. This avoids the hassle of the applicant paying and then claiming the funding back.

It all sounds just what many in the forestry and land sectors have been asking for, albeit there is some frustration over funding levels.

Although the scheme was re-promoted on 3 February 2023, by 13 February a notice went up on the FC website announcing that this year’s budget has already been spent.

Apparently “extremely high” demand means all £700,000 of funding, which had been made available for training courses to be undertaken prior to 31 March 2024, is now fully allocated.

This means any further requests for grant funding must be for training to be undertaken from 1 April 2024.

The scheme is a timely and focused one, given the government’s efforts to engage more people in woodland management and woodland creation.

Yet given how quickly the budget was allocated, it feels like much of it must have already been earmarked before the press notice was issued.

It would have perhaps been better at that point to have either been honest about the lack of funding in this calendar year, or even better, to increase the size of the training budget.

Fingers crossed the FC and Defra will wish to do exactly this.

In the expectation of increased funding, it is well worth looking at the Forestry Training Fund – and booking courses from 1 April 2024 – factoring in how personnel and training needs may change by this time.

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