By Paul Henman
Is woodland creation at the top of your agenda? With sustainability now at the forefront of agriculture and the prominent link between farm payments and environmental actions, it is easy to see why it should be.
We are all accustomed to the value of planting trees when it comes to creating a healthy eco-system. Less recognition, however, is accredited to the wider reaching benefits to farmland.
Benefits of planting trees on your land
Let’s look at the obvious one: generating an additional income stream in the future. It can prove to be quite a valuable way to utilise underused land.
If you plant trees today, that timber won’t be harvested for 25-30 years, so another motivator is the carbon credentials that go with trees.
Whether it be controlling soil erosion or offsetting carbon levels, woodlands will strengthen your business by ensuring it adapts to the effect of climate change. That’ll be key when it comes to easing the pressures enforced on beef and dairy farmers to reduce their carbon emissions.
We can’t forget the effect trees can have on water quality too, playing an important part in preventing the runoff of manure and fertiliser in watercourses.
As for your livestock and crops, well the benefits are two-fold. The additional shelter and shade created by woodlands will help in more extreme weather. It also pays to think about the value good biodiversity will have on grazing, creating opportunity for new and improved systems.
Crucially, we are also seeing the narrowing of a deterrent that has traditionally put land managers off planting trees and creating woodland; the contention that forestry land is worth less than agricultural land.
Land managers and farmers looking at diversifying into forestry now have many options to consider, from Defra grants to schemes such as the Woodland Trust’s Woodland Carbon Scheme.
We have rounded up a guide of the main schemes available to UK farmers
Woodland Creation and Maintenance (WCM): Countryside Stewardship
- The WCM provides a capital payment to create a woodland followed by, if eligible, an annual maintenance payment to maintain the new woodland for a period of 10 years.
- The woodland creation element (capital grant) is capped at an average of £6,800 per hectare for capital items that cover both planting and tree protection.
- Funding is available for other items that can support the objective of the scheme, including deer high seats and large and small leaky wooden dams.
- The woodland maintenance element (higher tier grant) will, if eligible, offer you a payment of £200 per hectare for each year for 10 years.
- Funding is available on at least 3ha, or 1ha when planting for water or air quality
- The total area can be made up of 0.5ha and 20m wide blocks, or 0.1ha and 10m when planting for air or water quality.
England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO)
- This is a flagship new grant scheme for farmers and landowners, permitting them to apply for support to create new woodland on at least 1ha.
- In addition to covering the standard capital costs of tree planting and annual maintenance payments, EWCO also offers ‘additional contribution’ per hectare for:
- Nature recovery: £1,100 to £2,800
- Water quality: £400
- Reduced flood risk: £500
- Riparian buffers: £1,600
- Close to settlements: £500
- Public access: £2,200
- Eligible land under EWCO can also be used to claim payments via the Basic Payment Scheme.
Woodland Management Planning Grant (WMP)
- The WMP is a one-off payment to create a 10-year woodland management plan which is UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant.
- You have two years from the agreement start date to write your plan and secure approval from the Forestry Commission. Once your plan is approved, you can claim the grant payment.
- The payment rate is based on the area of woodland:
- 3-50 hectares: flat rate of £1,000
- 51-100 hectares: £20 per hectare
- Over 100 hectares: £2,000 + £10 per additional hectares over 100 hectares
Woodland Trust Woodland Carbon Scheme
- Depending on the size of your project, you could receive up to 70% of the agreed value of your woodland.
- This is followed by 5% at the first successful progress report at 5 years, and the final 15% at the 15-year progress report.
- The carbon capture potential of your new woodland is assessed in Woodland Carbon Units.
Scotland: Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS)
- Successful woodland creation applicants will receive an annual maintenance payment for up to five years and a capital grant, for fencing and tree protection etc.
- There are nine support options, each varying depending on the species planted. They all have specific requirements for composition and stocking densities.
- All woodland creation must fit with the local authority woodland strategy.
Wales: Glastir Woodland Creation Scheme (GWC)
- Grants are available for landowners with more than 0.25 hectares of land – this can be made up of blocks of 0.1ha.
- Available on land designated by Forestry Commission Wales and conservation bodies as suitable for new planting.
- Establishment grants are included and can be claimed by the contract holder, or their agent acting on their behalf, following planting.
- Fencing grant rates are available at £3.48 per metre, which includes an allowance for gates.
- Applicants could be eligible for premium payments of £350/ha/year or 12 years for the cessation of agricultural production.
How can we help?
Are you considering planting trees or woodland on your farm? Our team of Farm Business Consultants are on hand to help you look at the feasibility of every option available and provide clear guidance when it comes to completing grant scheme applications. Get in touch today!