Updates to the England Woodland Creation Offer and Countryside Stewardship schemes will give land managers more flexibility and financial security.
Significant funding improvements to the biggest land management schemes for forestry – the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) – have been announced by Defra and the Forestry Commission. The changes are designed help drive tree planting rates across the country and to support farmers and landowners grow more trees.
The key changes will see:
- Funding for land managers and farmers to increase, helping to support the creation of more resilient and better managed woodland
- An increase in Maintenance Payments from 10 years to 15 years. The number of years government will pay maintenance for will increase from 10 years to 15 years. This additional five years of payments will support land managers with the longer-term activities to maintain their new woodland helping ensure the trees are cared for and become fully established.
- An extended Capital Window from two to three years We will be increasing the timeframe for capital works from two to three years for EWCO. Increasing the window for capital activities ensures all customers have two whole planting seasons to deliver their scheme, regardless of the start date of their agreement. This will provide additional flexibility to plan work, securing trees and materials, and responding to weather conditions if it prevents planting from going ahead as planned.
Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:
As woodland creation increases across the country we want to make sure the trees we do plant are well managed and resilient against future threats such as climate change or tree pests and diseases. It’s vital that once planted, new woodlands are well looked after.
We’ve listened to sector feedback on payment rates and timescales. The changes brought in today will give land managers two seasons to complete the planting and give longer term financial support to manage woodlands in the important early years of establishment. This will play an essential part in creating resilient forests and woodlands which improve our natural environment, help meet net zero carbon emissions, provide a sustainable source of home-grown timber and boost people’s health and wellbeing.
This announcement follows a range of recent changes to improve the woodland creation process, in response to customer and stakeholder feedback.
This includes the Ministerial consultation reform, designed to reduce the complexity and length of time it takes to apply to speed up getting trees in the ground and further improvements to EWCO applications, such as a new and improved application form. In the next few months, the government will be introducing even more changes to improve the woodland creation process, following sector feedback.
The government has set stretching targets to increase tree canopy and woodland cover in England to 16.5% by 2050. The changes will help get more trees in the ground at speed and will play an important role in halting nature’s decline by 2030 and meeting net zero emissions by 2050.
Tree planting will also play a vital role in achieving wider priorities including improving water quality, reducing flooding, creating green jobs and better connecting people with nature.
For more information and to apply, go to: England Woodland Creation Offer – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
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