Farmers and landowners in England will now find it easier to get financial support for planning new areas of woodland.
The Forestry Commission has relaxed the rules for the Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) to encourage more tree planting.
The WCPG is available to farmers and landowners with an interest in planting new woodland, to help cover the costs of producing an appropriate woodland creation design plan.
The biggest change in the scheme is a reduction in the minimum area of trees that need to be planted –from 10ha to 5ha – with some other amendments around the requirements for choosing tree species.
It is hoped that this will encourage more farmers and landowners to consider woodland creation, which is important if the government is to meet its targets on tree planting to address climate change.
Woodland creation increasing
According to recent figures from Forest Research, tree planting in England has increased over the past 12 months with 2,330ha of new woodland created in 2020, compared with 1,400ha in 2019.
However, this is still below the rate needed for the government to reach its manifesto commitment to plant 30,000/yr hectares of trees across the UK by 2025.
The total area of new planting in the UK in 2019-20 was 13,460 ha.
The WCPG is a two-stage process, with £1,000 available initially to cover the costs of a desk-based exercise to identify any constraints and opportunities that may affect any proposed planting.
If the Forestry Commission believes there is potential for woodland creation to take place on the site, landowners can then apply for a stage 2 payment of £150/ha, minus the £1,000 offered at stage 1, to gather further data and produce a UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant woodland creation plan. If specialist survey work is required at stage 2, such as an archaeological survey, then supplementary payments may be available to cover these additional costs.
A UK Forestry Standard compliant plan can then be used to support any applications for funding to plant and maintain trees, through schemes like the Woodland Carbon Fund, Countryside Stewardship and HS2 Woodland Fund.
Applications can be made to the WCPG all year round and the total amount of funding is capped at £30,000 per project.
For more information about the scheme and how woodland creation might benefit your farm or estate, contact a member of Strutt & Parker’s Land Management team.
Our specialist forestry team, John Clegg & Co, is also available to advise on woodland creation at a commercial scale and on forestry as a long-term investment. The team also sells well over 100 woodland and forestry properties a year. For further details, contact Tanya Gato.