Defra highlights grant funding available for woodland creation

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Defra has this week reaffirmed its’ desire to provide farmers and landowners grants to support the creation of new woodland. 

The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), jointly overseen by the Forestry Commission and Defra, pays landowners a grant of £10,000 per hectare of new woodland created, based on 1 hectare or above, providing a promising diversification opportunity, which also benefits the environment. 

Up to £8,500 is being offered to cover the cost of tree planting, with an annual payment of a further £200 made available, for ten years, to aid in the necessary maintenance of existing woodland.

Additional funding will be made available where the “woodland’s creation and design deliver public benefits”, including:

  • Up to £2,800 per hectare for woodlands that restore nature and species
  • £500 per hectare for woodlands that help reduce the risk of flooding
  • £400 per hectare for woodlands that will improve water quality
  • Up to £2,200 per hectare for providing access to woodlands for the public to enjoy

Forestry Commission Chief Executive, Richard Stanford, said:

“Trees and woodland play a vital role in protecting the planet and help mitigate the increasing threat of climate change and biodiversity loss. Creating woods can be an excellent way to diversify farms, especially on marginal land – and there are exciting opportunities to grow and manage trees in a way that maximises the benefits they provide for climate, nature, people and the economy.

“As the Government’s forestry experts, we continue to support farmers and landowners in finding ways to grow trees in a way which meets their individual needs and ambitions. I would strongly urge everyone considering woodland creation to look into this promotional drive, contact their local Woodland Creation Officer and start to put down roots, to see the tangible benefits which trees can bring to their business.”

The EWCO is part of the England Trees Action Plan, a key element of the Government’s 25 year environment plan, and according to a Defra spokesperson can be “tied in” with other environmental schemes, including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery Schemes. 

The pledge follows the release of the Woodland Trust’s ‘State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021‘ report, stating that in 2021 England delivered only 14% of the woodland necessary  to achieve the 2050 net-zero goals, around 30,000 hectares per year.

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