£15.9m funding scheme will pay farmers to plant trees

The Forestry Commission has launched a £15.9m funding scheme to help farmers create new woodlands

The Forestry Commission has launched a £15.9m funding scheme to help farmers create new woodlands - Credit: Lydia Taylor

A "landmark" £15.9m grant scheme has been launched to give farmers and landowners greater financial incentives to plant new woodlands.

The England Woodland Creation Offer has been launched by the Forestry Commission, aiming to "give greater recognition of the public and environmental benefits that woodlands bring".

With £15.9 million available in its first year, it offers grants for buying and planting trees, and then maintaining them for 10 years.

The scheme also includes a series of additional grants for "well-designed woodland that provides public and wider environmental benefits", such as improving river habitats, improving public access or reducing flood risks - and including up to £2,800 per hectare "where woodland creation will help woodland-dependent priority species to recover".

The Forestry Commission says the scheme is designed to allow farmers to make the most of green finance opportunities. For example, applicants will be supported to register their planting under the Woodland Carbon Code where eligible, to allow the future sale of woodland "carbon credits" to private buyers.

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Forestry Commission chairman Sir William Worsley said: “This exciting new grant offer is flexible to allow landowners to create a woodland that meets their own objectives.

"From planting a small one hectare block, a strip of trees along rivers to reduce flood risk, to large mixed woodlands. This improved grant gives everyone the opportunity to see woodland creation as a financially and environmentally rewarding option. This will help with our journey to reach net zero by 2050.”

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Andrew Allen, the Woodland Trust's lead policy advocate for land use, said: "We need more trees and woods creating habitats for nature, soaking up carbon, combating flooding and much else.

"The England Woodland Creation Offer will mean for the first time there's funding for new woodland that combines these benefits.

"Now the government needs to set out how it will ensure the new money delivers high quality, biodiversity-friendly native woodland.

"The Woodland Trust will be watching closely to make sure the funding delivers all the benefits we need such as the right trees in the right places."

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