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A one off payment known as the Woodland Creation Grant is now available under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Running from the 16th February 2016, applicants have until 31st March 2016 to submit their initial woodland creation applications to the Natural England Technical Services department. The full application must then be submitted by 31st May 2016.
The Woodland Creation Grant provides up to a maximum of £6,800 per hectare towards the costs of supplying and planting trees, plus associated items such as trees guards, fencing and gates. A woodland creation plan must be included as part of the application which will outline the planting objectives, the species used, areas to be planted and detail open space requirements.
The success of applicants will depend on the adopted scoring system. Those with the greatest positive impact on biodiversity, water (quality and flooding) and climate change will achieve more points. Land already subject to other Rural Development Schemes is not eligible for further funding.
The minimum application for creating new woodland is 3 hectares with a minimum individual block size of 0.5 hectares. This threshold is lower however when creating new woodland, in order to improve water quality / reduce flooding and when restocking after tree health issues.
If eligible, applicants can also include the woodland creation maintenance (WD1) option to further support successful planting. The woodland creation maintenance (WD1) option is a 10 year scheme available to Higher Tier participants (the woodland areas need only be registered under the Higher Tier). This provides a further £200 per hectare per year to cover replacing failed trees, maintaining fences and guards, maintaining open spaces and clearing competing vegetation.
Funding towards woodland management plans (PA3) and woodland improvement (WD2) are also available under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.