Time to Plan Your Winter Woodland Planting!

By Katie Stevens

Spring is blooming, butterflies are fluttering by, and trees are waking up after their long slumber. So why am I talking about woodland planting in winter already?

Last May, the Forestry Commission rolled out their new and improved tree planting scheme: England Woodland Creation Offer, or EWCO for short. Open to landowners, land managers and public bodies, the scheme has a minimum total application area of 1ha (2.47 acres), allowing individual planting areas to be as small as 0.1ha (0.25 acres). Up to £10,000 per hectare is available to support the woodland creation scheme, which could cover 100% of costs; this depends on several factors, such as application location, type of woodland and protection measures (fence or tube).

The funds cover many items for woodland creation – most importantly, the trees themselves! From there, other items include fencing, tree guards, gates and vegetation control. While there is no cap on individual items, such as fencing and gates, inclusion of items on the application have to be justified; if you always see herds of deer across your land, you know that deer fencing, or guards are going to be required to ensure planting success.

An option that I would encourage applicants to include is the 10-year Annual Maintenance Payments. A contribution of £300/ha is given for actions including maintaining tree protection, removal of competing weeds and replacement of any trees that die.

Another element that was introduced with this grant is Additional Contributions (AC). Although they are optional, I would again encourage including any possible AC within your application. All have similar requirements when it comes to species and stocking densities. The Forestry Commission has a mapping tool that identifies elements that, through woodland creation, will be improved, such as water quality and habitats. If your proposed woodland falls within one, two or all of the mapped areas, you are able to claim the following Additional Contributions below, as given by the Forestry Commission:

  • Nature Recovery – up to £2,800 per hectare for woodlands that restore nature and species
  • Flood Risk – £500 per hectare for woodlands that help reduce the risk of flooding
  • Water Quality – £400 per hectare for woodlands that will improve water quality
  • Riparian Buffers – £1,600 per hectare for woodlands along riverbanks that improve water habitat
  • Close to settlements – up to £500 per hectare for creating woodlands close to where people live
  • Recreational Access – up to £2,200 per hectare for providing access to woodlands for the public to enjoy

As with most grant schemes, they can take time to be processed and approved, especially if there are other stakeholders to consider and consult. As an example, if there is a Scheduled Monument within the proposed woodland area, Historic England will have to be consulted.

My main message is this: if you are thinking of planting a woodland, totalling over 1ha, get in touch now to discuss it so that your scheme can be approved in time for winter 22/23.

For further information, contact us or visit the EWCO website here.