Create woodland: overview

Find information and support on woodland creation in England, including funding to create woodland, legal requirements and best practice for sustainability.

If you plan to create woodland in England you can get advice and grant aid from the Forestry Commission. You’ll need to know how your woodland will be regulated and monitored. You may be eligible for a grant to create woodland.

Woodland creation funding and grants

You may be eligible for funding and grants to create woodland.

There are 3 major funding schemes available for woodland creation in England (plus funding for carbon sequestration):

Woodland creation funding to improve biodiversity and water quality

Countryside Stewardship scheme funding is available from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The Woodland Creation Grant (WCG) element of Countryside Stewardship supports you where your woodland will help one or more of the following:

  • local biodiversity (priority habitats and priority species)
  • water objectives (to improve water quality or help reduce flood risk)
  • climate change mitigation or adaptation

You can apply for capital funding to establish new woodland, including planting trees and installing tree guards, fencing and gates. You could receive up to 80% of the standard costs for these items and a contribution of 40% of the cost of roads and tracks needed to support the woodland’s establishment (including agent fees and VAT, where applicable). Payments are capped at an average £6,800 per hectare across the area for planting and protection (not including forest roads and tracks).

Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.

Funding to plan and design a new woodland

The Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) provides funding to help cover the costs of producing a UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant woodland creation design plan, which can support applications to other funding sources for woodland creation, such as the Woodland Carbon Fund.

This grant contributes to the costs of gathering and analysing information needed to make sure that your proposal for productive multi-purpose woodland (over 10 hectares) considers impacts on:

  • biodiversity
  • landscape
  • water
  • the historic environment
  • local stakeholders

The grant also:

  • ensures the tree species you want to plant are productive today and in the future to mitigate climate change
  • helps to meet timber productivity thresholds in England

You can apply for up to £150 per hectare, capped at £30,000 per project.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Woodland Creation Planning Grant and how to apply.

Funding for woodland creation to support carbon storage

The Woodland Carbon Fund supports the planting of productive, multi-purpose woodlands to store carbon. It also provides opportunities to work in partnership on landscape scale projects and open up public access to woodland and increase environmental benefits.

The scheme offers capital funding for the creation of new woodland. This includes the planting of trees and costs of protection items including tree guards, fencing and gates. You can also get funding for the installation of forest roads and recreational infrastructure.

A one-off capital payment of £1,000 per hectare is available in year 5 following successful establishment of the trees.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Woodland Carbon Fund and how to apply.

Earn extra income from selling carbon

If your project is not cost-effective with a woodland creation grant alone, you might be able to earn further income by selling carbon credits from your project. To do this you need to register with the Woodland Carbon Code within 2 years from the start of planting. Validation/verification to this standard provides assurance of the carbon savings and access to the voluntary carbon market.

Read an overview of The Woodland Carbon Code leaflet (PDF, 630KB, 3 pages) Find out more about the Woodland Carbon Code scheme for buyers and landowners.

Woodland creation design plans

You need to carefully design new woodlands to fit within the landscape and accommodate features of interest. Find out more about the forest design process in the UK Forestry Standard and practice guide on Design techniques for forest management planning.

You need to develop a written plan supported by a:

  • site context map
  • site appraisal plan
  • design concept plan
  • final woodland creation design plan

To develop these documents you can apply for the Woodland Creation Planning Grant.

Tax planning

To preserve and protect national heritage – including woodland – for the benefit of the public, the government introduced the ‘Conditional Exemption Tax Incentive Scheme’. Find out if you might get relief from Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax because you own a woodland.

Case studies

At Cherryrock Farm (PDF, 290KB, 2 pages) Mr Howes, a farmer from Bristol, worked in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust to improve biodiversity and enhance wildlife on his land through tree planting.

In this second case study, Common Farm (PDF, 1.79MB, 2 pages) ] was designed after extensive consultations with local groups, organisations, elected councillors and residents - hundreds of people got involved in tree planting events.

Environmental Impact Assessment

When you apply to plant a new woodland via a woodland creation grant from the Forestry Commission the application will automatically be considered under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, as amended. The Forestry Commission is responsible for the assessment of the effects of certain public and private woodland projects on the environment, and will work with you to make sure you don’t break the rules.

If you want to plant a new woodland without grant support you may, depending on the size and location of the proposed project, need to submit an EIA enquiry form.

Create sustainable woodlands: UK Forestry Standard

This guidance applies to all UK woodland and explains the international agreements and conventions that apply to sustainable forest management to address climate change, help biodiversity and protect soil and water resources. It covers all forestry activities in the UK and sets out the legal requirements and best practice standards for owners of woodland.

You can find country-specific advice on which tree-species to plant in the UKFS publication. Find further information on species and provenance choice for adapting England’s woodlands from Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission.

Use the Forest Research tool - Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System (ESC-DSS) - to help you select species ecologically suited to your site.

Plan for sustainability: best practice and voluntary certification

Climate change

When designing new woodlands, it’s important to consider how tree species suitability is likely to change in the future. Find out about tree species and resilience to climate change. This information is available from Forest Research.

If you’re planting trees you should source trees grown in the United Kingdom from a Forest Reproductive Material Certified supplier. Find out more about working with seeds, cuttings and planting stock.

Habitats and species protection

You need to consider habitats and species already present on the land when planning a new woodland. Find out more about habitats and species protection and how to benefit species and habitats biodiversity in your woodland.

You also have to work out how best to protect the trees that you plant from tree pests and diseases that pose serious threats to woodland. For tree pests like squirrels and deer read guidance on managing threats from destructive animals and invasive species.

Plan to manage woodland once it’s established

Once you’ve created woodland you’ll have to follow the rules on:

If you decide to trade in wood products you’ll also have to meet regulations and monitoring requirements. Find out more about trading in wood materials.

Read guidance on Managing ancient and native woodland in England (PDF, 1.13MB, 71 pages) including information on woodland assessment and monitoring, management planning, woodland structure, tree species, restocking, species management and conservation and recreational, educational and sporting uses.

Read guidance on The management of semi-natural woodlands (PDF, 934KB, 36 pages) including information on the need for management, harvesting, weeding, tending and thinning, tree regeneration, grazing and pest control.

For further information on woodland management and mitigating the impact of climate change read Climate change: impacts and adaptation in England’s woodlands (PDF, 1.92MB, 16 pages) .

Use online tools to find out more about your land

If you plan to purchase woodland or land to plant with trees you can use the Land Information Search (LIS). This map-based tool allows you to search for information about land designations or features that might already apply to your land. Examples of these features include:

  • special protection areas
  • grant schemes
  • Countryside Stewardship targeting layers
  • low risk areas for woodland creation
  • sites of special scientific interest
  • scheduled monuments

Public registers

You can find useful information - such as proposals for woodland creation and tree felling - using the Forestry Commission public registers.

The Forestry Commission consult with other statutory bodies such as Natural England when proposals may affect protected sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Open access land

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW Act) normally gives a public right of access to land mapped as ‘open country’ (mountain, moor, heath and down) or registered common land. These areas are known as ‘open access land’. You can find out if the public has a right of access to land under the CRoW Act using CRoW and Coastal access maps.

Much of the coastal margin that’s being created as part of the work to implement the England Coast Path is also open access land.

Find out more about managing public rights of way and access and to your land.

Contact the Forestry Commission, England

Find the Forestry Commission’s Area Office and Administrative Hub contact details including, address, telephone number and email address.

Forest Research

The research agency of the Forestry Commission offer a range of services which will help with pest and disease control and also offer resources such as publications, statistics and datasets.

Published 9 July 2018