Eastern region farmers and landowners are being encouraged to apply for a grant to create woodland on their land.
Administered by the Forestry Commission and financed through the Nature for Climate Fund, the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) opened last month. It replaces the Woodland Carbon Fund.
The EWCO will cover capital costs, at a 100% intervention rate (up to a per hectare cap). It also provides annual maintenance payments for 10 years towards forest roads and tracks, and recreational infrastructure such as paths and picnic benches.
“Now is an ideal time to start thinking about the help that the EWCO can provide,” says Gwilym Jenkins, from the food and farming team at Savills in Cambridge.
“Support is flexible to allow landowners to create a woodland that meets their own objectives and those of government; and we’ve had several clients ask us already about how they can best utilise the grant.”
Additional payments recognise the public benefits that well-designed woodland generates in the right locations. The payments cover nature recovery, riparian buffers, access, water quality, reduced flood risk and proximity to settlements.
It is hoped the EWCO will support the creation of over 10,000 hectares of new woodland over its lifetime and follows the UK government’s commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year in its England Trees Action Plan for 2021-2024.
“Forestry is a multi-functional asset, with multiple ecosystem services flowing from it, whether it be timber, carbon, flood prevention or public access, while woodlands are increasingly being understood and utilised for their holistic value.
“The EWCO also provides extra incentive for the creation of new broadleaves woodlands, especially those which extend existing priority woodlands, benefit water habitats, or provide access to the public.”
The England Trees Action Plan also aims to encourage the formation of Woodland Creation Partnerships. The goal is to help local farmers and landowners secure private finance for woodland.