There are many reasons why a landowner may want to plant trees. The benefits that new woodlands can provide include:
- Timber production
- Flood Mitigation
- Carbon Sequestration
- Economic Benefits
- Soil Management
- Sporting use
- Landscape value
- Rural Employment
There are number of grant incentives available depending on the location, scope and scale of the planting proposal. For smaller, non-grant fundable tree planting or those financed entirely by the landowner, Environmental Impact Assessment regulations may still apply, particularly if the proposal is located within a sensitive area.
Simon Marrington, Business Development Manager in North & Central England gives a full description of the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation grant in England:
Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant
The Government’s principal support mechanism for new woodland creation is the Woodland Creation Grant, currently available under the Countryside Stewardship Grant. This is a capital grant, for a 2 year capital works programme to plant and protect young trees and you can apply all year round.
The capital items and rates available are as follows:
There is a cap of £6,800 per hectare for planting and protection. This is applied as an average across the whole scheme, so individual compartments may exceed this as long as the aggregate cost per hectare is within threshold.
Minimum planting area requirements apply – normally a 3 hectare overall scheme size, with a minimum 0.5 hectare individual block size, however where tree planting contributes specifically to water quality improvement or a reduction in flood risk a minimum scheme of 1 hectare and an individual block size of 0.1 hectare may be permissible where justifiable.
To ensure the successful establishment and to support ongoing maintenance requirements of the new woodland after planting, a CS Higher Tier option Woodland Creation Maintenance Grant WD1 offers a multi-annual payment of £200 per hectare for 10 years. Applicants can apply for this separate agreement once all requirements of the capital agreement have been met and claimed. It is worth noting that Woodland Creation agreement holders have maintenance obligations on their scheme for 5 years irrespective of whether they subsequently apply for WD1.
Subject to certain criteria being met, agreement holders should be eligible to continue to claim and receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) during any subsequent 10 year maintenance agreement period – or at least for as long as it exists.
The Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant doesn’t really target or promote productive commercial forestry. (see Woodland Carbon Fund for this).