Robson & Liddle’s James Pyrah explains the grant funding available through forestry and woodland management schemes.
Although forestry and woodland coverage within England is on the rise there is still room for improvement and a national target is in place to increase the area further.
What grants are available?
The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) has recently announced funding to improve productivity from forestry through its Countryside Productivity Scheme.
Grants are available to those with 10ha or more of forest or woodland who wish to take a more hands-on approach to production and a claimant can receive grant aid from £35,000 to £1million to contribute towards new ventures.
This opens the doors to estates and farming businesses wishing to diversify and presents opportunities such as firewood enterprises or the collaborative purchasing of forestry equipment between neighbouring farms and estates. By doing so the cost of harvesting woodland could be significantly reduced as the grant can fund up to 40% of equipment costs with the remaining 60% split between several parties.
Competition for funding may be strong and it is important that priority areas are targeted when funding is applied for. The key themes of the funding are improved productivity, growth of the business, collaborations and partnerships, and the ability to create higher value products.
If landowners do not wish to invest quite so significantly other funding is still available. The Woodland Creation Grant (WCG) for 2018 has been confirmed and will commence in January with £13million allocated for the planting of trees and an annual maintenance payment that will be available for ten years thereafter.
The theme will remain very much the same as for 2017 with the aim of planting a further three million trees across England by providing landowners with the opportunity to claim up to £6,800 per hectare.
Putting in place a woodland management plan
In order to claim any of the grants available, a woodland management plan approved by the Forestry Commission must first be in place.
The Countryside Stewardship Scheme offers a flat rate contribution of £1,000 all year round for woodlands between 3ha-50ha. It is a very worthwhile investment as it not only allows landowners to apply for grant funding but gives woodland a clear direction for the future.
Felling licences for clear fells and thinning works are incorporated into the management plan, keeping future time and expenditure to a minimum.
For further advice on forestry and woodland management, please e-mail James or call him on 01768 254354.