Farmers reminded of woodland grant for land 1ha and above

The scheme will support farmers who want to create woodland in areas as small as 1 hectare
The scheme will support farmers who want to create woodland in areas as small as 1 hectare

Farmers in England are being encouraged to take advantage of a new woodland creation grant that offers enhanced payment rates for planting the right tree in the right place.

The England Wood Creation Offer (EWCO), which opened for applications on 9 June, replaces the Woodland Carbon Fund.

It is one of a suite of Forestry Commission initiatives to support woodland creation and tree planting across England.

The scheme will support farmers and landowners who want to create woodland in areas as small as 1 hectare.

EWCO is a criteria-based, competitive scheme, with funding offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

There is £15.9m available in the first year, with it providing enhanced payments rates to farmers and landowners.

Speaking about the grant, land consultancy Berrys said there would likely to be a lot of interest from farmers.

"This is one of the first grants that support woodland creation in an area as small as 1ha," said chartered surveyor Vicky Price.

"It is important farmers, landowners and land managers speak to their local Forestry Commission Woodland Officer as early as possible as the grant is on a first-come, first-served basis."

For those with five hectares or more, she said it was also worth applying to the Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) before EWCO.

The WCPG contributes towards the costs of designing new woodland, offering farmers access to expert advice from the Forestry Commission early on in the process.

However, those applying to the EWCO on land currently in an Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement will need to be prepared to repay all or part of the payments made under their agreement, she warned.

What are the EWCO's payment types?

The EWCO can cover 100% of eligible standard capital costs of woodland creation, meaning costs are covered for buying and planting the trees, and then maintaining them for 10 years.

Additional financial contributions are available for well-designed woodland that provide public and wider environmental benefits.

There are four types of payments available under EWCO:

• Support for the capital items and activities to established new woodland through standard costs.

• 10 years of annual Maintenance Payments to help establish the young trees once the capital works are complete.

• Contribution towards the actual cost of installing infrastructure to either enable the current and future management of the woodland, or to provide recreational access.

• Optional Additional Contributions where the location of the woodland and its design will deliver. You can apply for multiple Additional Contributions on the same land.