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How one landowner is planting a legacy on unproductive land

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The Forestry Commission is responsible for protecting, expanding and improving England’s woodlands, and promoting sustainable woodland management.  We provide grants and advice on woodland creation, management and tree health, as well as managing felling licences.

We can help you to find out more about how trees can complement your existing business and the benefits they can offer you and your land.

With financial incentives available and expert support on hand, woodland creation and management can help you diversify, generate reliable revenue streams and deliver environmental benefits that support your wider land management goals.

Read inspiring case studies of successful tree planting and woodland creation projects from farmers and landowners across England.

For more information visit or contact your local Woodland Creation Officer

Straddling the border of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, the historic manor house of the Langley Priory estate has seen many changes during its 800 year history.

Estate owner Tim Wagstaff wanted to create a new woodland that his local community would enjoy for generations and that would also benefit his tenants and the environment.

Parts of the estate were no longer viable for commercial farming, such as field corners that were unsuitable for tractors, fallow land and grassland.

These areas were ideal to create Buckle Wood – 6.35 hectares of new woodland intended to connect Smooth Coppice, an ancient semi-natural woodland to the north, with Shepherds Plantation in the east.

Connecting these two woodlands would create wildlife corridors linking wildlife-rich areas, which will encourage the movement of species across an otherwise fragmented landscape.

Langley Priory estate

Langley Priory estate © Forestry Commission

Planting a woodland to complement the landscape

Tim is no stranger to woodland creation projects, having been involved in several past initiatives across the estate.

Tim says, “We’ve always been planting trees here – there is nothing more rewarding and satisfying. You put a stick in the ground, and it grows and captures carbon, creates habitat, becomes a beautiful lifeform: it doesn’t get better than that.”

Tim considered the available grants and decided to go with the Forestry Commission’s flagship England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) grant scheme. The grant can provide funding to cover the capital costs, 15 years of maintenance and stackable additional payments for delivering a range of benefits to society, nature recovery and the environment.

Tim worked with his agent Robin Brett, Managing Director at Carbon Forestry, to develop a plan to plant a mix of 9,000 broadleaf trees. The species mix was carefully selected to ensure resilience to pests, diseases and future climate conditions, with many of the tree species already being present and thriving across the estate.

Newly planted trees

© Forestry Commission

Hand-planting took place in November 2022, in winding and curving rows, which had been marked mechanically to achieve parallel lines and an average tree spacing of 2 metres.  

Tim is keen to continue tree planting to complement the current landscape and works together with Robin on their long-term plan to meet the estate’s woodland objectives.

Cultivating green sanctuaries for nature and the community

Buckle Wood is accessible to the public through the Cross Britain Way and other footpaths.

Tim hopes that it will bring people together and promote a sense of environmental stewardship as they witness first-hand the improvements to the landscape and wildlife in the area.

The wood stands prominently as proof of the estate’s commitment to sustainability and the local community.

The continued tree planting efforts have also helped the estate in developing its corporate identity. In addition to its woodland creation, Langley Priory estate supports several wildlife charities.

Working with the Leicestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation, they have created habitats that are of great value to butterflies and bumblebees, and they hope to collaborate further to protect rare and endangered species.

For the Langley Priory team, the most rewarding benefits are the legacy and biodiversity value for future generations. By using pockets of land less viable for commercial farming, and with careful species selection, they have unlocked the landscape for nature while supporting the estate’s broader environmental ethos and the estate’s tenants. 

Breathing new life into marginal land

Breathing new life into these otherwise unproductive parcels of land has meant Langley Priory estate has seen significant environmental gains without impacting financial returns.

Across England, more and more landowners and farmers are exploring the environmental, financial and social benefits that woodland creation can provide.

Weaving trees into oddly shaped areas, uneven terrain, gullies or acreage that’s difficult to cultivate efficiently can help bring that marginal land into productive use.

With the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) coming to an end, planting trees can be an opportunity to diversify and provide alternate revenue streams, as well as reduce costs.

In addition to EWCO funding and annual maintenance payments lasting fifteen years, income can be generated through timber, wood products, carbon or recreation.

Trees can also indirectly reduce costs through protecting livestock, crops or preventing flooding.

For more guidance on woodland creation and information on grants and support available, visit: or contact your local Forestry Commission team at