Defra increases funding for farmers to grow more trees

As part of the changes, forestry funding for farmers and land managers will increase
As part of the changes, forestry funding for farmers and land managers will increase

Defra has today announced increased funding and more flexibility for farmers and landowners in England to grow more trees.

Funding improvements to the biggest land management schemes for forestry have been unveiled by the government.

The schemes include the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and Countryside Stewardship (CS).

As part of the changes, forestry funding for land managers will rise and there will be an increase in maintenance payments from 10 years to 15 years.

Land managers will now be paid £5,250 per hectare over the 15-year maintenance period, giving an extra £1,750 per hectare.

An extended Capital Window from two to three years has also been announced, to ensure farmers have two whole planting seasons to deliver their scheme, regardless of the start date of their agreement.

Defra says the changes are designed help drive tree planting rates across the country and to support farmers and landowners grow more trees.

The government has set a target to increase tree canopy and woodland cover in England to 16.5% by 2050.

Forestry Commission chair, Sir William Worsley said Defra had listened to sector feedback on payment rates and timescales.

He said: “As woodland creation increases across the country we want to make sure the trees we do plant are well managed and resilient against future threats such as climate change or tree pests and diseases.

“The changes will give land managers two seasons to complete the planting and give longer term financial support to manage woodlands in the important early years of establishment.

"This will play an essential part in creating resilient forests and woodlands which improve our natural environment, help meet net zero carbon emissions, and provide a sustainable source of home-grown timber."