Woodland grants now feature as part of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, within the element known as “Higher Tier”. This grant scheme is administered by Natural England.
There are two distinct types of grant aid, “Capital grants” for specific identified items (fencing etc.) and what are classed as “Multi Annual” payments, which cover a range of works designed to ensure the woodlands are managed for specific purposes, and include such things as squirrel and deer control, coppicing, uneconomic thinnings etc.
The grant can be applied for the property as a stand-alone woodland only Higher Tier application, or in conjunction with a Mid Tier application for other environmental options.
These grants will have windows of application and will be based on a points system. Those scoring sufficient points to meet the threshold are then offered a grant (the threshold score will not be quantified until all applications are in and assessed).
Woodland creation grants.
These are for the creation of new woodlands. In most cases the minimum area of woodland is 3 ha, the minimum block size being 1ha.
The grant will be based on a cost per tree basis and in the interim round in 2014 the initial starting point was £1.28/tree for supply and planting in a 0.6 m spiral guard. Extra costs can be added for fencing, tree shelters etc. based on published costs, up to a maximum payment of £6,800/ha.
There is also a payment of £200/ha for 10 years to support the maintenance works to ensure successful establishment.
Woodland Planning Grant
Also now available on a rolling programme is the Woodland Planning Grant. This is a grant towards the cost of having a management plan produced for the woodlands on your holding.
The grant is paid on an area basis - £20/ha for the first 100 ha and £10/ha after that, with a minimum grant of £1000. (starts at 3ha).
Going forward, plans will be an essential element for those wishing to include woodland improvement options under Countryside Stewardship, and will need to be in place prior to applying for those elements of grant aid.
These are quite detailed plans highlighting the present woodland condition and how it is intended to manage that resource to maintain its importance for production, landscape, environment etc.