Farmers can now get up to £11,600 per ha for planting woodland

Defra has unveiled increased payment rates for farmers and landowners planting new woodland (Photo: Defra)
Defra has unveiled increased payment rates for farmers and landowners planting new woodland (Photo: Defra)

Farmers and land managers can now receive up to £11,600 per hectare for planting woodland, representing a 45% increase.

A rise in England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) payments has been announced by Defra and the Forestry Commission.

The increase in payment rates will take effect immediately, both organisations said today (18 March).

EWCO offers farmers and land managers tailored tree-planting incentives to encourage woodland creation where it is best suited.

The current maximum rate per hectare available from additional contributions will increase from £8,000 to £11,600 – a 45% rise.

That will increase to £12,700 in stackable payments if the land is also eligible for the new Low Sensitivity Land Payment.

Standard costs payments will remain at up to £10,200 per hectare, Defra and the Forestry Commission said.

Other measures include a new payment to encourage applications on low sensitivity land, in a bid to avoid land most suitable for food production.

And when planting on low sensitivity land, farmers and land managers can now receive £1,100 per hectare.

A new ‘Nature Recovery – premium’ payment option (£3,300 per hectare) has also been added to the Nature Recovery Additional Contribution.

This is designed to encourage the planting or natural colonisation of highly biodiverse woodlands next to ancient woodland.

Uplifts have also been made to some of the other existing additional contributions, with a focus on riparian buffers, flood mitigation and access.

For example; payments for flood risk management have doubled from £500 to £1,000 per hectare, and recreational access has increased from £2,200 to £3,700.

Defra and the Forestry Commission have also announced a rise in annual maintenance payments, from £350 to £400 per hectare, per year, for 15 years.

Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford said: "Today’s announcements make it clear that woodland creation is a compelling part of the business of land management.

"I encourage everyone eligible to take advantage of the generous woodland creation incentives now available."

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said that while payment rates had increased for woodland planting, food security remained the government's priority.

She said: "We will continue to support our farmers and land managers to improve and conserve the natural environment and plant more trees, whilst making sure our best agricultural land is kept for food production.”