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Can’t See The Wood For The Trees? The Changes to the Woodland Grants System in England

On 10th March 2014, the Forestry Commission released a national email alert informing woodland owners of the changes to the grants system in England. We are entering a transitional year for woodland grants and there is very little information being released as to exactly what will be left when we come out the other side. There have been some sudden changes to the grants structure for 2014/15, with the biggest loss being the loss of the Woodland Regeneration Grant for normal re-stocking.

Below is a summary of what is left in the pot:

  1. Woodland Improvement Grants (WIGs) – Only the Woodfuel WIG is open in 2014/15 and any improvement required as a result of plant disease.
  2. Woodland Regeneration Grant (WRG) – Only available to re-stock woods that have been felled for plant health reasons.
  3. Woodland Creation Grant (WCG) – Which is under review as to whether there is sufficient grant funding available.
  4. Woodland Planning Grant (WPG) – Open for 2014/15 and 2015/16 Claim years.

The eligibility for grants is also changing and the process is outlined below:

  1. All woods need to be registered with the Rural Land Registry.
  2. An application needs to be submitted for a Woodland Planning Grant.
  3. Using the Forestry Commission template, create a  10 year Woodland Plan, using the WPG to fund the plan.   This will also generate a 10 year felling licence.

It will no longer be possible to receive any grants (except the WPG) without the above process being completed. It will also be necessary to have an SBI number in order to claim the grant monies; as they are paid through the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).  This will be a considerable burden to smaller woodland owners with no other requirement than to register with the RPA.

After the transition year, all grants will be administered by DEFRA as part of the New Environmental Land Management Schemes (NELMS). The Forestry Commission will no longer process grants, but will continue to issue felling licences. This will allow woodland grants to sit alongside any other Pillar 2 schemes. There is not yet any detail as to what sort of grants will be available, however, we do know that applications will be invited from Autumn 2015 for the new schemes to commence in January 2016.

In summary, if you are looking to invest in your woodland and obtain any grant funding, you will have to act fast. The pot of funding is running dry, but there is still good money available, particularly the Woodfuel WIG, if you wish to invest in your woodland roads. The WPG is an absolute must, and should be obtained at the very beginning.

If you require any further information about the above or advice on managing your woodland, please contact Will Parker on 01207 529663 or

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