WD2: Woodland improvement

Find out about eligibility and requirements for the woodland improvement option.

How much will be paid

£100 per hectare (ha) per year.

Where to use this option

Available for Higher Tier

How this option will benefit the environment

It will improve the biodiversity of woodland or make it more resilient to climate change.


The agreement will set out the objectives and what must be done to achieve them. This will be based on a pre-existing Woodland Management Plan approved by the Forestry Commission.

This option can only be used on areas covered by the agreement. It cannot be used on other woodland areas also covered by the Management Plan. The specific compartments where this option will be used will be identified in the application process.

Agreement holders will need to apply for this option under one of the following priority objectives:

  • restore plantations on ancient woodland sites
  • enhance priority habitats
  • enhance priority species
  • improve resilience to climate change through continuous cover forestry (CCF)

Agreement holders will need to carry out one or more of the following requirements on the land, as informed by the Woodland Management Plan and as discussed with a Forestry Commission Woodland Officer:

  • reduce the percentage of coniferous species by year 5, as agreed with an adviser
  • use regeneration felling where appropriate to encourage crown development and/or natural regeneration
  • replant 1,100 trees per ha if native tree species haven’t started to regenerate naturally 2 years after the removal of conifers, or conditions to support natural regeneration of native species are not in place (this is for areas larger than 0.25ha)
  • manage successional scrub through cyclical cutting
  • re-coppice as agreed with an adviser
  • thin or selectively fell trees as agreed with an adviser
  • implement silvicultural transformation as informed by the Woodland Management Plan
  • monitor the presence of red and grey squirrels in red squirrel strongholds
  • release existing or recruitment veteran trees from competing tree growth
  • control deer if they are identified as a threat in the woodland management plan, put in place a deer management plan and manage deer populations using lethal control or fencing to allow establishment of ground flora and understory
  • remove competing, non-native or invasive species by mechanical or chemical control, as agreed with an adviser
  • create and/or manage permanent open space and access rides
  • manage ride edges by cyclical cutting
  • create or maintain appropriate levels of deadwood habitat in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS)
  • show evidence of activities undertaken through monitoring, photography and marking
  • complete an operational site assessment, or similar, to show UKFS compliant operational activities
  • provide monitoring reports in years 3 and 5 to confirm progress (e.g. providing before and after photographs, a record of the number of deer culled, and the results of squirrel monitoring)
  • control grey squirrels using live or lethal traps if they are identified as a threat in the woodland management plan. In areas that also contain red squirrels, only live traps can be used. Shooting may be undertaken as an additional method of control.

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request

  • any bank statements, receipted invoices, consents or permissions connected with the work
  • records of all management activity on the option area for each parcel
  • an FC approved management plan that justifies the need for this option
  • a Deer Management Plan in place by the end of the first year
  • monitoring reports, send these with the claim in year 3 and 5

Applicants will have to send the following with their application:

  • a Forestry Commission management plan approval letter

The detailed requirements for this option will be tailored to the Higher Tier site. Applicants should discuss and agree these requirements with their adviser.

Further information

See the Higher Tier manual to find out more about the scheme and how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 26 May 2016 + show all updates
  1. Removed related options section. No other options can currently be located on the same area as WD2.
  2. Updated information for applications in 2016.
  3. First published.