The Forestry Commission is offering almost £16m in grant funding over the next year to incentivise landowners and farmers in England to plant and manage trees, in a bid to ensure “the right tree is planted in the right place, and for the right season”, it announced today.
Backed by a £15.9m funding pot for its first year, the England Woodland Creation Offer is designed to support the delivery of a range of woodland types and sizes, with grants able to cover up to 100 per cent of the standard costs of buying and planting trees, as well as maintaining them for 10 years, the Forestry Commission said.
Potential projects eligible for funding include those along rivers designed to improve water flow and quality or ‘rewilding’ programmes which use natural processes to encourage germination through seeds as they fall to the ground.
Additional financial support is also being made available for “well-designed woodland that provide public and environmental benefits”, such as supporting woodland-dependent priority species, reducing flood risk, improving public access and boosting water quality, the government said.
Forestry Commission chair Sir William Worsley said the new grant offer was deliberately flexible to allow landowners and farmers to create woodland that meets their own objectives, while also supporting the UK’s climate target to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
“From planting a small one hectare block, a strip of trees along rivers to reduce flood risk, to large mixed woodlands,” he said. “This improved grant gives everyone the opportunity to see woodland creation as a financially and environmentally rewarding option.”
The grant scheme is focused predominantly on creation of large-scale native broadleaf woodlands, and forms part of the government’s recently-announced target to treble tree planting rates by the end of the current Parliament.
Boosting tree cover across the UK is widely regarded as a crucial pillar to delivering on the UK’s climate targets, as they provide natural carbon storage as well as helping boost soils and protect against flooding, in addition to supporting a wide range of biodiversity. However, tree planting rates have faltered in recent decades, and remain far below that recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government’s ambition was to create diverse woodland across the country in order to “benefit wildlife, the environment and people”.
“From planting trees along rivers to reduce flood risk and improve water quality, to creating habitat for woodland dependent species, and improving public access – this grant will help deliver the woodlands of the future,” he said.
In related news, drinks brand Innocent this week announced it is to plant 10,750 trees as part of a pledge it made last year to plant 50 trees every time a football match across England’s and Scotland’s top four divisions, as well as the Women’s Super League, ended in a 0-0 draw last season.
The firm, which is 90 per cent owned by the Coca-Cola Company, said 215 football matches across all divisions ended in a “bore draw” last season, but that as a result of its pledge “when no one wins, the planet does.”
The initiative forms part of an extended partnership with the League Two side Forest Green Rovers, of which Ecotricity founder and green entrepreneur Dale Vince is the chairman. The partnership is now set to continue for another year, the company said.