The Forestry Commission is calling on farmers and land managers to make best use of the new round of Countryside Stewardship support for woodland, with the opening of the 2017 Countryside Stewardship capital grants on 3 January 2017.
£17million will be made available to expand and manage woodland; working towards the Government’s and forestry sector’s shared ambition to achieve 12% woodland cover in England by 2060.
Countryside Stewardship is a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant scheme. It will contribute around £900 million over six years to help farmers and woodland managers look after the environment, contributing to the Government’s commitment to plant 11 million trees during this Parliament.
Farming Minister George Eustice said:
“The Countryside Stewardship scheme plays a crucial role in enhancing our environment – conserving and restoring habitats to help wildlife recover, creating woodlands to improve air quality and reduce flood risk, and improving our landscapes to increase productivity and resilience.
“I’m pleased today to confirm details for next year for these elements of Countryside Stewardship, and I encourage farmers and land owners across the country to apply.”
Woodland is one of the scheme’s priorities and funding is available to create new woodland, support the preparation of management plans and address tree health issues. Not only do woodlands help improve biodiversity and tackle water quality, climate change and flooding, they can also provide sustainable fuel to heat your home and a potential source of income.
A range of grants are available to people to support woodland creation and sustainable woodland management, with Forestry Commission advice available on the application process.
Grants available in the coming weeks include the Woodland Creation Grant and the Woodland Planning Grant alongside Tree Health support.
The Woodland Creation guidance and application forms have now been published on GOV.UK to allow time for applicants to start making their plans in advance of application windows opening on 3 January.
For the Woodland Planning Grant, a new application process will be open for applications on 3 January 2017 with application forms available on GOV.UK in w/c 19 December.
Commenting on the scheme, Chartered Forester John Wilding MBE, who is responsible for woodland management on the 1,900 hectares Clinton Devon Estates, said:
“We’ve had a positive experience of Countryside Stewardship in achieving our Heathland Management Options and Multi Annual Woodland Options. We applied in April but the guidance and help we received from both Forestry Commission and Natural England field officers was efficient, courteous and professional throughout. Processing took time and we submitted the final plan in August, without problems, in what proved to be a completely trouble free process.
“My overriding impression is that Forestry Commission and Natural England work as an efficient partnership in delivering the scheme. They correctly input all our data, dates etc into the system and there were no major issues. I would encourage anyone to apply for grants in the knowledge that your application will be dealt with professionally.
Penny Oliver, Forestry Commission’s Team Leader for Incentives and Regulations, added:
“We are delighted to publish details of the 2017 capital grants. We’ve taken on board the recommendations of foresters and land managers to streamline the scheme where possible.
“Our woodland creation grant will help to deliver against the priority to create 11 million trees in this Parliament. In addition, the Forestry Commission will continue to support agreement holders producing a UKFS-compliant management plan for their woodland.
“Protecting against threats to plant health is a priority for this government and the Forestry commission continues to offer support for tacking specific tree health issues through Countryside Stewardship.
“I would urge farmers and land managers to contact us and check the detail of what is on offer. Your local Forestry Commission woodland officer could be offering you advice and guidance today, so get in touch!”
The Woodland Creation Grant and Woodland Planning Grant will be open for applications on 3 January, while Woodland Tree Health grants remain open for business.
Planned timings for the 2017 capital woodland schemes are as follows:
Woodland Creation Grant
- applications will be processed from 3 January 2017, with forms already available on GOV.UK
- Join our Webinar for Agents to find out more about what’s on offer, taking place on 20 December from 10:00-11:30, covering Countryside Stewardship capital grants 2017, including woodland creation and woodland management plans. Book up on it here Register
Woodland Planning Grant
- A new application form and guidance will be available on GOV.UK in w/c 19 December.
- Processing new applications will commence on 3 January 2017.
Woodland Tree Health – restoration and improvement
- Both grants for specific tree health issues remain open for business. Tree Health Restoration supports restocking in a woodland following felling due to specific tree health diseases. Tree Health improvement supports the removal of rhododendron and uneconomic felling of diseased trees.
- See the Woodland Support page of GOV.UK for eligibility and application forms.
- For more information, see the Forestry Commission Countryside Stewardship webpage and the GOV.UK page on Woodland Support or contact your local Woodland Officer
Local information days on offer
Forestry Commission is planning a number of local information days to give people insight and guidance into the application process. Local teams will be getting in touch with their local contacts prior to each event, but anyone who wishes to know more should contact their Area Team or look for details on the Forestry Commission Countryside Stewardship webpage.