Fancy yourself a bit of arborist? Never had the opportunity to truly indulge your passion? Good news! The UK Government is now offering grants for woodland creation.
So, basically, you get money to plant trees!
Don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.
Here’s everything you need to know:
On 13 June 2019, Forest Research released the latest national statistics and revealed that the area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.19 million hectares. This represents 13% of the total land area in the UK, which, compared to the average woodland coverage of 37% throughout the EU, seems slightly dismal.
Apart from being beautiful and offering tranquil spaces for the city-weary to explore, woodland areas also play an extremely important role in keeping our environments healthy.
Here are just a few benefits that increasing the number of indigenous trees offer:
- Air purification – trees absorb pollutant gases such as nitrogen oxides, ozone, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and, in turn, produce oxygen.
- Cooling effect – one of the reasons we’ve seen such extreme temperature rises (especially in cities), is due to the fact that green areas have been replaced with heat-absorbing surfaces such as asphalt and concrete.
- More biodiversity – while a tree may seem like a single entity at first glance, each and every one is actually home to thousands of life forms – from larger wildlife like squirrels and birds to smaller creatures like bugs and spiders and, finally, also a range of microscopic organisms.
- Improved water quality – trees and vegetation can help reduce water quality problems in communities by decreasing stormwater runoff and soil erosion.
So, bearing all these benefits in mind, it’s hardly surprising that the UK government is on a mission to increase woodland areas. And how are they doing this? By offering ordinary citizens – not forestry companies – grants to get involved.
If you want to make the UK green again, there are three different types of grants to apply for:
Woodland creation funding to improve biodiversity and water quality
Firstly, you can apply for capital funding to establish a new woodland, including planting trees and installing tree guards, fencing and gates.
With this option, you could receive up to 80% of the standard costs for required items and a contribution of 40% of the cost of roads and tracks needed to support the woodland’s establishment.
Payments are capped at an average £6,800 per hectare across the area for planting and protection (not including forest roads and tracks).
This grant forms part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme and has been made available through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
It is specifically aimed at supporting those who plan to create a woodland that will assist with the following:
- local biodiversity (priority habitats and priority species)
- water objectives (to improve water quality or help reduce flood risk)
- climate change mitigation or adaptation
Read more about the Country Stewardship Woodland Creation grant.
Funding to plan and design a new woodland
If you have a background in design and planning, this is right up your alley!
The Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) provides funding to help cover the costs of producing a UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant woodland creation design plan.
This grant contributes to the costs of gathering and analysing information needed to make sure that your proposal for productive multi-purpose woodland (over 10 hectares) considers impacts on:
- the historic environment
- local stakeholders
The grant also:
- ensures the tree species you want to plant are productive today and in the future to mitigate climate change
- helps to meet timber productivity thresholds in England
You can apply for up to £150 per hectare, capped at £30,000 per project.
Find out more about the Woodland Creation Planning Grant.
Funding for woodland creation to support carbon storage
The Woodland Carbon Fund supports the planting of productive, multi-purpose woodlands to store carbon.
The scheme offers capital funding for the creation of new woodland. This includes the planting of trees and costs of protection items including tree guards, fencing and gates.
A one-off capital payment of £1,000 per hectare is available in year 5 following successful establishment of the trees.
Find out more about the Woodland Carbon Fund.
Of course, woodland creation isn’t on the cards for many of us, simply because we don’t have land!
Fortunately, there are ways you can work around this to contribute to a greener future in the UK:
Urban Tree Challenge Fund
Apart from the three main opportunities listed above, a third exists that may just solve your conundrum.
Named the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, it was developed in response to Treasury releasing £10 million for planting at least 20,000 large trees and 110,000 small trees in urban areas in England.
It is open to anyone who wants to plant trees in urban or peri-urban areas. Applicants are, however, required to have full management control of or consent to use the land for the duration of the agreement.
The fund is available for 2 years (2019/20 and 2020/2021) and applications must be submitted during an application window.
In year one, the fund is open for block bids only. These block bids allow organisations to apply for multiple projects – dispersed across England – under one application.
Funding will be opened up to individual applications in the second year. These individual applications are aimed at smaller organisations or even community groups working on small scale projects.
DO NOTE: Individual applicants can submit an Expression of Interest to the Forestry Commission to state their interest and receive the latest up to date information on the fund before the opening of the year 2 application window.
The fund provides up to 50% of published standard costs for planting large and small trees and their establishment costs.
Find out more about the Urban Tree Challenge fund.
Find government property and land to rent or buy
Okay, now this is somewhat dicey and probably also quite unlikely, but a possibility nonetheless.
If you’ve spotted an open plot of land that isn’t being put to any use and you suspect it may be government property, you can actually contest the current use and suggest an alternative that benefits the local community!
You can also use the Government Property Finder to find government-owned property, buildings or land in the UK which you can rent or buy.
Find out more on the Government website.