A new grant scheme for landowners has been launched create woodlands that boost biodiversity, support rivers, and provide public access.

£15.9 million funding from The Forestry Commission will support the creation of new woodlands. This includes planting new trees, alongside allowing trees to self seed and grow. This natural woodland regeneration improves habitats for wildlife as well as stabilising landscapes to reduce damage from flooding.

In it’s first year the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) will provide £15.9 million. Up to 100% of the landowners costs may be covered for buying and planting trees, plus maintaining woodlands for 10 years. This is a significant improvement on previous schemes that have provided partial or match funding.

New native woodlands

The majority of new planting is expected to be native tree species. In addition, some can contain a mixed native and conifer woods enabling long term sustainable forestry opportunities.

Native species planting will be at the heart of the grant scheme

There will be also be additional support to help the recovery of key species, support flood prevention or provide long-term public access.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice said: “Our ambition is not just to treble tree planting rates by the end of Parliament but to create diverse treescapes across the country which benefit wildlife, the environment and people.

“This grant, backed by £15.9 million in its first year, provides an exciting range of options for farmers and landowners. So they can plant and manage trees in a way that meets their individual needs and ambition.

Natural flood defences

George Eustice continued: “From planting trees along rivers to reduce flood risk and improve water quality, to creating habitat for woodland dependent species, and improving public access – this grant will help deliver the woodlands of the future.”

Trees, shrubs and deadwood along riverbanks and on floodplains act as a drag on flood waters, holding back water and slowing the flow at times of flooding.”www.woodlandtrust.org

“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,” he said.

Woodland Trust support for grant

Andrew Allen, the Woodland Trust’s lead policy advocate for land use, said: “We need more trees and woods creating habitats for nature, soaking up carbon, combating flooding and much else.

“The England Woodland Creation Offer will mean for the first time there’s funding for new woodland that combines these benefits.

Now the Government needs to set out how it will ensure the new money delivers high quality, biodiversity-friendly native woodland.

“The Woodland Trust will be watching closely to make sure the funding delivers all the benefits we need such as the right trees in the right places.”

Mark Bridgeman, president of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), said:  “Payments for woodland creation under the EWCO are significantly better than previous schemes. The minimum application area has been reduced to one hectare, which should increase interest in tree planting.

“Higher standard payments, with optional supplements for biodiversity, flood mitigation or access provision, makes woodland creation under the EWCO a more attractive option than before.

“It is well worth landowners looking into whether this new scheme can work for them.”

If you are a landowner, take a look at the online guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-woodland-creation-offer

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Additional support will be available to landowners who provide long term public access to woodlands

Quotes sourced from www.shropshirestar.com

Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot