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Woodlands For Water

by Jay Li Sanderson, Tilhill, Forest Manager in North & Central England

The past few months have been quite hectic assisting my line manager in the organisation and management of five clearfell and four thinning operations, including summer maintenance, tree safety surveys, and the obligatory woodland boundary and drainage type operations. From now until the turn of the year the workload shows no signs of letting up with our recent clearfells set to be ground prepped over the coming weeks and restocked once the planting season arrives. In addition, we have some woodland creation projects to be planned in too, which has to be the best part of the job! One noteworthy point of late is the success of our tender bid which resulted in all forest managers based in our North Yorkshire office becoming Woodland for Water advisors for another two-year period across the North Yorkshire and North East England regions.

The Woodland for Water scheme is essentially an incentivised woodland creation scheme. Whilst it has familiarity locally, it is perhaps little known further afield so I will briefly provide some context. In short, the Woodland for Water scheme looks to provide grant funding for woodland creation in target areas selected jointly by the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission England based upon flood mitigation, water quality and habitat improvement criteria. What I find interesting about this scheme is that the minimum area for woodland creation is as small as 1 hectare and does not need to be the same plot it can be spit across different plots on the same farm or geographical area. This really lends itself to make use of those less favourable areas on farms and estates and has the potential of bringing unused, unmanaged and, more importantly, unproductive areas back into management.

Whilst this scheme provides the environmental benefits that the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission England require this may not be the driving force for landowners and managers, so what will the scheme deliver for them? Well, recently we have been involved with Woodland for Water schemes that have provided much more than the financial incentives currently available of £6800 per ha for initial planting, stock protection and fencing and £200 per hectare per annum for maintenance payments. Woodland planting can provide:

  • Respite for livestock from wind, rain and sun.
  • Shelter to farmyards, farm buildings and crops.
  • Helping defer need for winter housing.
  • Capacity to slow the flow of surface water.
  • Uptake of surface and groundwater.
  • Prevention of soil erosion.
  • Prevention of flooding.
  • Stabilisation of river banks.
  • Screening of unsightly features.
  • Noise pollution reduction.
  • Increased capital value of unproductive land.
  • Enhancing amenity or sporting values.
  • Provision of tax-free income from timber sales.
  • Providing timber products eg: fencing, gates, wood chip bedding or fuel.
  • Generating additional income from carbon sequestration.
  • Increasing ecological interest and biodiversity.
  • Supporting rural employment.
  • Landscape enhancement.

I would imagine most farms and estates could muster a hectare of land that is not currently contributing to the farm/estate either financially or environmentally, even if it is fragmented across the property. The target area for the scheme can be seen by clicking here. If the scheme may be of interest or you would like more information on the woodland creation options available to you then please don’t hesitate to contact me for a chat.

For further information and free, friendly, expert advice please call Simon Marrington, Area Manager or use the ‘Talk to us’ page below.

View the m4W Catchment areas:

Annex 1 Yorkshire

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Annex 1 North East

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Woodlands for Water Leaflet

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