Guidance

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.

To see the full range of grant and incentive schemes available for woodland creation, maintenance, management and tree health, see our woodland grants and incentives overview table. You can see at a glance which schemes you might like to explore in more detail. This is a starting point and further information can be found in the information below, by following the links within the table or by speaking to your local Forestry Commission Woodland Officer.

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 and urban tree planting):

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 for Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant and how to apply.

Funding to plan and design a new woodland

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.

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 woodland creation (over 5 hectares) considers impacts on:

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

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

Funding for urban tree planting

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) provides funding to support the planting and establishment of large and small trees in urban and peri-urban areas in England. The fund is competitive and targeted at projects that can provide the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits in our towns and cities.

The fund offers up to 50% of published standard costs to support the planting and establishment of urban and peri-urban trees. The UTCF is a challenge fund, which means applicants are required to provide at least 50% match funding from other sources, which can be in the form of money or labour.

Round 2 is open from 30 March 2020 to 31 May 2020. Due to the success of block bids in Round 1, it invites individual applications (no block bids) for small tree planting only.

Find out if you are eligible for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and how to apply.

Funding for tree nurseries that supply trees to Scotland

Coronavirus had a serious impact on working practices at some nurseries and overall production levels are still recovering from dry conditions during 2018. Defra, Forestry Scotland, the Welsh government and the Forestry Commission have developed a grant scheme to help tree nurseries in England that supply trees to Scotland to invest in equipment that will increase their productivity and capacity, and sustain employment. For the first time, tree nurseries in England are able to apply for funding under Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Harvesting and Processing Grant and how to apply.

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.

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.

Woodland creation quick guides and case studies

Guides

  • The 'How trees benefit your farm business’ leaflet (PDF, 3.16MB, 2 pages), which has been put together by the Forestry Commission and the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership, provides suggestions on where trees can be planted on farms and information on the benefits of trees, from natural flood management to providing shade and shelter for livestock

Case studies

  • Our case study from project developer Brown & Co, who had a number of successful applicants in the first Woodland Carbon Guarantee auction, looks at the scheme and its potential benefits to landowners (PDF, 331KB, 2 pages).

  • Waterfoot Bridge (PDF, 757KB, 2 pages) in Cumbria is a new case study about a 22 hectare woodland that has been planted by third generation timber merchants to expand the long-term timber supply to their sawmill. Find out how the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant supported their objectives for the woodland, and about the benefits that the woodland will bring to the local community

  • If you’re a farmer interested in planting trees, read our case study of Howard’s Wood (PDF, 2.4MB, 2 pages) in Dorset, where a 13 hectare woodland was planted in 2002 on former maize fields. The woodland manager, Helen, explained to us what benefits the woodland is now bringing, and how the wildlife and the timber crop live, grow and evolve together

  • At Avon Wood (PDF, 325KB, 2 pages) in Warwickshire, a new landowner, Mr. Harding shares his experiences and top tips of how to plant a new woodland. Avon Wood is planted with a diverse range of trees for biodiversity and the case study looks at what trees have been planted

  • At the Lowther Estate (PDF, 1.13MB, 3 pages) in Cumbria, the new woodland comprises of 121 hectares of productive conifer, with the remaining 49 hectares made up of predominantly productive broadleaves. The estate used the Woodland Creation Planning Grant to help cover the planning and design costs for the new woodland, and funding from Countryside Stewardship for the planting and maintenance

  • At Cherryrock Farm (PDF, 456KB, 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

  • Common Farm (PDF, 356KB, 2 pages) was designed after extensive consultations with local groups, organisations, elected councillors and residents - hundreds of people got involved in tree planting events

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
Last updated 13 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updating 'Woodland grants and incentives overview table'.

  2. Updating Woodland Creation Planning grant information in line with changes to the grant from the 2 November 2020.

  3. This page has been updated with information about funding for tree nurseries that supply trees to Scotland.

  4. A case study on the Woodland Carbon Guarantee has been added to this page.

  5. Information about Round 2 of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund has been added to this page.

  6. A case study about Waterfoot Bridge in Cumbria has been added to this page.

  7. The 'How trees benefit your farm business’ leaflet has been added to this page.

  8. A case study on Howard’s Wood in Dorset has been added to this page.

  9. The woodland grants and incentives overview table has been updated.

  10. An updated version of the 'woodland grants and incentives overview table' has been added to this page.

  11. The woodland grants and incentives overview table has been added to this page.

  12. A case study on Avon Wood has been added to this page.

  13. Addition of information about the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

  14. First published.