Woodland grant expanded to encourage more tree planting

The criteria for a woodland planning grant have been changed to encourage more farmers and landowners to plant trees.

The Forestry Commission has relaxed the rules for the Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG), reducing the minimum area of trees needed and amending the requirements on tree growth rates.

The grant helps cover the cost of producing a woodland creation design plan.

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The minimum area of trees that needs to be planted has been changed from 10ha to 5ha, and the requirement that 70% of the species proposed for planting will achieve minimum growth rates has also been removed.

George Stone, graduate surveyor at Strutt & Parker, said: “It is hoped this will encourage more people to consider woodland creation, which is important if the government is to meet its targets on tree planting to address climate change.”

How the grant works

The WCPG is a two-stage process, with an initial £1,000 available to cover the costs of identifying anything that may affect the proposed planting.

If the Forestry Commission believes there is potential for the site, landowners can then apply for a payment of £150/ha to gather further data and produce a UK Forestry Standard-compliant woodland creation plan.

If specialist survey work is required, such as an archaeological survey, supplementary payments may be available to cover these costs.

This plan can then be used to support any funding applications to plant and maintain trees, through schemes like the Woodland Carbon Fund, Countryside Stewardship and HS2 Woodland Fund.

Applications can be made to the WCPG all year round and the funding is capped at £30,000 for each project.

Tree planting progress

According to Forest Research, tree planting in England has increased over the past 12 months, with 2,330ha of new woodland created in 2020, compared with 1,400ha in 2019.

However, this is still below the rate needed for the government to reach its aim of planting 30,000ha a year across the UK by 2025.

The total area of new planting in the UK in 2019-20 was 13,460 ha.