Some content on this page may be a little dated. Things like legislation, prices and grant information can change quite quickly. This page was created from content written during or before 2012 and is a priority for us to update.
Various organisations may give grants towards the cost of tree planting and woodland management work. Eligibility depends on many factors, including the objectives of the work, the area of the country, any special site designations, involvement of the local community, public access, contributions to biodiversity targets and other matters.
Outline information only is given here, with contact details for further information.
Sources of information
Contact The Conservation Volunteers, Forestry Commission, local authority woodland or tree officer, or local office of the government nature conservation agency (English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or Environment and Heritage Service for Northern Ireland) for information about your area.
Royal Forestry Society
The Royal Forestry Society of England and Wales publish the Grants for Tr££s Booklet, which gives comprehensive details on grants related to trees and woodlands, and is updated regularly. The information is also available online at www.rfs.org.uk
Woodland Grant Scheme
The Woodland Grant Scheme (WGS), administered by the Forestry Commission, is the main grant available in Great Britain for creating new woodlands and managing existing woodlands. Within the WGS, various other schemes and supplements may be available.The information below gives a general outline. For current details, contact the local Forestry Commission office or visit www.forestry.gov.uk
Creating new woodlands
To qualify, a new woodland normally has to be at least 0.25 hectare in area, and at least 15 metres wide, but smaller areas may qualify if, for example, it adds to existing woods. To be approved, applications in England must meet the priorities of the England Forestry Strategy, with similar strategies in Wales and Scotland. In awarding grants, a scoring system gives priority to new woodlands which will contribute to economic regeneration, provide access, or contribute to a named national or local BAP, HAP or SAP target. Larger woodlands score higher than smaller woodlands.
Grants for new planting are paid in two instalments: 70% when planting is finished, and 30% after five years. Normally the planting rate is 2250 trees per hectare. For broadleaves this can be reduced to 1100 trees per hectare for small schemes below 3 hectares, where the broadleaves form part of a mainly coniferous scheme, or for new native woodlands on appropriate sites. Grants are also available to create new woodlands through natural regeneration.
Additional payments may be available for planting on former agricultural land, for community woodlands or in Community Forest areas.
New native pinewoods in the Highlands of Scotland attract the same rate of grant as broadleaves, with eligibility restricted to those areas within the former natural distribution of Scots pine-dominated pine-birch forest.
Provided that it is consistent with the environmental requirements of the WGS, grants may be payable on suitable sites for the establishment of new coppices for traditional management.
In some areas, ‘challenge funds’ are available for which bids can be made, and for which a high rate of grant is payable. These are available for a limited time, and for particular types of planting.
Farm Woodland Premium Scheme
The Farm Woodland Premium Scheme supports the creation of farm woodland by encouraging farmers to convert productive agricultural land to woodlands, through annual payments to compensate for agricultural income forgone. These are normally for schemes already approved under the WGS.
For existing woodland, grants are available for restocking by planting or natural regeneration. Where natural regeneration is practical and appropriate, the Forestry Commission will not normally agree to proposals for planting.
The Annual Management Grant may be available to help towards the cost of maintaining and improving woodland, where this safeguards or enhances the special environmental value of a woodland, or improves public access. The Woodland Improvement Grant is a single payment made to improve public access, bring undermanaged woods back into management, or encourage woodland biodiversity.
The Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme in England protects 22 areas of national environmental significance, totalling 10% of agricultural land, where changes in farming methods may pose a threat, and conservation depends on adopting, maintaining or extending particular farming methods. Farmers receive an annual payment based on income forgone for entering into 10 year management agreements.
Outside ESAs, the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England is the main government scheme for the wider countryside, and offers annual payments and capital grants to manage particular habitats and features in the interests of conservation. Agreements normally run for 10 years. The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is open to anyone who owns or manages suitable land, including farmers, landowners, local authorities, voluntary bodies and community groups. For further details on ESAs and CSSs contact your local DEFRA office, or visit www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/schemes
In Scotland, the Rural Stewardship Scheme is an agri-environment scheme designed to encourage farmers, crofters and others to adopt environmentally-friendly practices and to maintain and enhance particular habitats and landscape features. This may include management of native or semi-natural woodland, hedges and coppices. For further details visit www.scotland.gov.uk
In Wales, Tir Gofal encourages farmers throughout Wales to maintain and enhance the agricultural landscape and wildlife habitats. Tir Gofal is run by the Countryside Council for Wales. For further details visit www.ccw.gov.uk
England Rural Development Programme
The England Rural Development Programme runs from 2015-20 and supports schemes aimed at protecting the environment and supporting the rural economy and communities. These schemes include Environmentally Sensitive Areas, the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, the Woodland Grant Scheme, the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, the Energy Crops Scheme and others involved with enterprise and training. For further details visit Rural Development Programme for England.
Separate Rural Development Programmes are being drawn up for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There are many regional and local woodland initiatives which can give advice on funding and other matters relevant to woodland management. The Woodlands Initiatives Register is compiled by the Small Woodlands Association and is available on their website at www.smallwoods.org.uk
Grants may be available for particular management work which benefits biodiversity or contributes to a local or national HAP, BAP or SAP. Veteran trees and coppice management for butterflies are examples of work which may attract advice and funding. For details of schemes contact the local office of the nature conservation agency (EN, CCW, SNH) or biodiversity officer of the local authority.