Apply for grant support for activities that enhance the quality, quantity, and diversity of tree seed sources in England.
Applies to England
About the Seed Sourcing Grant
Applications for the second round of the Seed Sourcing Grant (SSG) have now closed. The SSG will reopen for a third round of applications soon. Please check this page or sign up for our eAlerts for updates. The guidance on this page will be updated when the grant is relaunched.
The Seed Sourcing Grant (SSG) is a competitive grant to provide support for activities that enhance the quality, quantity, and diversity of tree seed sources in England. The government aims to at least treble tree planting rates in England by 2025 and has set legally binding targets to increase tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of total land area by 2050.
SSG will help to ensure the availability of planting stock to meet these targets. The SSG is looking to support projects that will increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of Seed Stands and Seed Orchards on the Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) Register of UK Basic Material. See Marketing forest reproductive material for forestry purposes for more details.
Technical experts have developed a set of recommended.
These strategies provide suggested ideal approaches to the delivery of enhanced quality, quantity, and diversity of registered Seed Stands and Orchards for 21 species which have been identified as a priority for support. Delivery of these recommended activities for the priority species is the priority for financial support from the SSG, which is reflected in the grant evaluation criteria and payment rates. However, given the likely uplift in seed requirement of all kinds to meet planting targets, the scheme is open to proposals covering all species included in the UK FRM scheme including the voluntary scheme.
Guelder rose and wych elm were previously identified as priority species but have been removed as several projects to address these strategies are currently underway. However, they are still eligible for 50% funding as a non-priority species.
View a list of successful seed sourcing projects from previous rounds. We are unlikely to fund work that duplicates activities already funded in rounds one and two so please refer to this list when considering your application.
What funding is available?
Projects must be completed and invoiced by 27 March 2025. Projects, whether single or multi-year, must have a minimum total cost of £2,000 to be eligible for funding under the SSG. Applicants may submit more than one bid during each funding round, but each lead applicant may only apply for a maximum of £75,000 per annum, across all their bids in a given funding round.
All activities related to the 21 species seed sourcing strategies will be funded at 100%, and other projects will be funded at 50%.
Management of existing Seed Stands, to ensure they are productive for seed collectors. Seed stands must either already be registered on the National Register of Basic Material or should be registered on the National Register of Basic Material as part of the proposed project. This may include bringing current Source Identified (SI) seed sources under management and registering them as a seed stand as part of the project (see guidance note for further information). These must be time-bound rather than ongoing activities.
Desk studies and field studies to identify and bring additional seed stands onto the National Register of Basic Material.
Planning and planting of new seed stands, and their registration on the National Register of Basic Material.
Planning and planting of new seed orchards and their registration on the National Register of Basic Material.
Proposals can include a combination of activities from the list above.
To be eligible for funding:
- the project proposal must be relevant to the production of tree seed from species covered by the UK FRM scheme (including those in the voluntary scheme)
- the Seed Stand or Seed Orchard must be in England
- the work to be funded must not have commenced, and must not commence until a funding agreement is in place
- activities must be associated with an eligible FRM category as detailed below
All eligibility criteria are fully described in the SSG application form and associated Guidance Notes.
Eligible categories of FRM:
- Source-Identified (SI) Seed Stands
- Selected and Tested Seed Stands
- Qualified and Tested Seed Orchards
Source-Identified (SI) Seed Sources are also eligible for funding under this grant if they meet the criteria to be registered as SI seed stands and are registered as seed stands as part of the proposed project.
Definition of terms
Please see below for a list of definitions or visit the FRM guidance pages:.
The plant material from which Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) is derived and consists of Seed Stands, Seed Orchards, parent material held by tree breeders in archives, individual Clones and Clonal Mixtures.
Forest Reproductive Material (FRM)
Can consist of fruit, seeds, and cones; all parts of plants obtained by vegetative propagation including embryos; and plant produced from any of these.
The Register of UK Basic Materials
The source of all information on approved Basic Material.
Specifically defined areas or groups of trees with identified boundaries. They can be source-identified, selected, or tested.
Sources based on known individuals derived from tree breeding programmes. They can be qualified or tested.
FRM comes from general or specific locations within a single region of provenance or native seed zone with an altitude bran but with no specific superior qualities recognised.
FRM is collected from stands showing superior characteristics eg. better form, growth rate, health.
FRM derives from the selection of superior individual trees which have not undergone any form of testing.
FRM derives from the selection or individual trees or stands which have been evaluated for genetic quality or, in comparison to accepted standards, have been shown to be superior.
Eligible costs that may be claimed for include but are not limited to:
- staff, or contractor, costs for project delivery, including for research and technical advice
- seeds and saplings
- consumables and temporary infrastructure required for management of seed stands, for example fencing
- contribution sought towards costs of equipment required to complete the project. For equipment over £500, the contribution offered will be at the evaluation panel’s discretion
- travel and subsistence specifically for the SSG grant activity, carried out in the most economically and sustainable way possible
The following expenditure is ineligible:
- ongoing maintenance of seed stand and/or seed orchard after the project delivery window
- insurance for capital items or staff
- repairs and ongoing maintenance to existing or purchased equipment
- any other travel and subsistence (inclusive of other grant schemes)
- costs or overheads such as rent, and utilities apportioned to those staff directly or indirectly employed on the project. For equipment over £500, the contribution offered will be at the evaluation panel’s discretion
- costs incurred outside of the project delivery window
- costs involved in preparing your application or work on another grant scheme
- retrospective funding for work that has already been started/carried out before grant agreement
- capital items relating to seed processing or storage
Find out if you are eligible
The SSG is open to any UK-based public, private, or third sector organisation that can demonstrate how the grant will be used to enhance the quality, quantity, and diversity of English seed stands and seed orchards. Individual private landowners may also apply for eligible activities on their own land. Joint applications are also acceptable, and any partners should be listed in the application form.
Previous applicants to the SSG, whether successful or unsuccessful, are able to reapply in this round. The following groups are identified as potential applicants to the SSG:
- public and private sector tree nurseries and tree seed suppliers
- research institutes including public sector research establishments
- landowners including private and public landowners and NGOs
- NGO’s working on tree improvement and other aspects of seed and tree production
Forestry England (FE) and Forest Research (FR) are not eligible for grant funding under the SSG but may be subcontracted on behalf of eligible organisations to complete SSG related work.
How do I apply?
Applications for the second round of SSG have now closed. The SSG will reopen for a third round of applications soon.
This is a competitive grant and so it is possible that not all eligible applications will be funded. A single stage application process will be followed.
Applications must be written in English, using the forms available at the Seed Sourcing Grant Application Form Page (without alterations to layout or format).
Detailed guidance on how to apply can be found in the Guidance to applicants found on the Seed Sourcing Grant Application Form Page.
In the application form you will be asked to provide details about:
- the project and how it fits within the scope of the fund to increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of tree seed available for planting in England
- the activities to be funded
- the species covered by the proposal
- the longevity of the impacts resulting from the proposed activities
- who is in the project team and what their roles are
- how the project will run and be managed effectively
- the main risks for the project, and how these will be mitigated
- the impact that an injection of public funding would have on the project
- the cost of the project and how it represents value for money for the project team and for the taxpayer
- the expected outputs of the project
All costs and financial details should be in £ Sterling. If you are VAT registered, all costs should be exclusive of any VAT that can be recovered from HMRC. Applicants must detail the source of their match funding and clearly outline the activities, milestones and outputs that will be delivered by March 2025. The Forestry Commission do not have the ability to transfer funding beyond March 2025.Please carefully consider this when submitting your application,, taking into account factors such as delivery time.
All questions in the application form are mandatory and you must submit a Finance Spreadsheet as part of your application. If any part of your application is incomplete, your application will be returned to you within three working days for you to revise and resubmit before the deadline should you wish. If any part of your application is unclear, the Forestry Commission may contact you – at any time prior to informing you of a funding decision – to request further information. If you wish to amend your application before the published deadline or withdraw your application at any time, please email email@example.com.
If you consider the information contained within your application to be commercially sensitive, you must notify the Forestry Commission of this when submitting your application.
Consortium applications are welcomed. A lead partner should be identified in the application. The lead applicant will become the sole agreement holder with the Forestry Commission; they will be responsible for the undertakings and obligations detailed in any grant agreement, in line with Terms and Conditions of Funding. If your application is successful, the lead applicant will become the sole agreement holder and will be the sole recipient of grant funding upon receipt of valid claims. The contractual arrangements held between the lead applicant and their co-applicants are not the responsibility of the Forestry Commission and the lead applicant will have sole responsibility for onward disbursal of grant funding to co-applicants, for example.
The Forestry Commission reserves the right to change the deadline for applications or make changes to the Invitation to Apply and the application process at short notice. The Forestry Commission reserves the right to amend, add to or withdraw all or any part of the funding application process at any time during the process. All changes are recorded at the bottom of this page (click ‘show all updates’) and where these are made following the opening date the lead applicant for all applications already received will be contacted directly by email. Material changes (for example to the closing date or eligibility rules) will also be communicated via the Forestry Commission’s Grants and Regulations eAlert.
If you wish to clarify any application requirements or the application process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will aim to respond to all requests for clarification within three working days of receipt. If we consider information requests relevant to any applicant, we will provide additional guidance to all applicants (via point of contact provided) by email to ensure a fair and open process. We may be unable to respond to other support requests due to the competitive bid process. The Forestry Commission reserves the right not to answer clarifications where it considers that the answer to that clarification would or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.
Applicants who canvass Forestry Commission or Defra employees associated with the SSG may have their applications rejected from the process.
Applicants who are unable to accept standard terms and conditions may have their application eliminated from the application proces
How will applications be assessed?
All applications will be evaluated by a panel with expertise and experience of tree and seed production in England and funding will be awarded to the highest scoring successful applicants. Any applications deemed to fall outside the scope of the fund will not be evaluated. Your application will be rejected if your project is ineligible for funding (see ‘Is my project eligible?’ above) or if your application scores 0 in response to any question in the application form when reviewed by the panel. A minimum overall score of 20/40 is required to be eligible for SSG grant funding.
Projects must not begin before the start date of any grant agreement offered by the Forestry Commission.
The Forestry Commission reserves the right to not award all the funding available if insufficient bids of an appropriate quality are received. The Forestry Commission will regard all eligible applications as remaining valid for 6 months after the initial closing date. If the funds are oversubscribed and additional funds become available, valid applications may be reconsidered for funding.
The Forestry Commission may carry out checks on each application using a variety of government tools including the Cabinet Office’s automated grants due diligence tool called ‘Spotlight’ and Bank Account Verification software. As part of the due diligence process, the Forestry Commission may share details of the organisations involved in applications to this grant with other parts of government.
Reporting and payments
Payments will be made in arrears by BACS transfer following receipt of claim forms. In any given financial year, successful applicants will be able to submit claims at the end of the financial year, and on one other date of their choosing. Claims can only be made for work that has been completed or items that have been delivered and must be supported by evidence of all expenditure (i.e., invoices/ timesheets). Where not accompanied by a final or end of year report, a progress update must be provided to demonstrate that works have been carried out as per the grant agreement. End of year claims and reports will be due by 27 March 2025.
Successful projects must not begin before the start date of any grant agreement offered by the Forestry Commission – expenditure made outside of the funding period stated in the grant agreement will not be eligible to claim back.
Successful applicants will be required to complete a report at the end of each financial year and at the end of the project, detailing achievement against stated outcome and outputs, lessons learnt, a complete cost breakdown outlining how the grant funding has been spent and any need for further development. A Report templates will be provided to successful applicants. Payments may be withheld or reclaimed if reports are not submitted on time.
Where applicants are failing to deliver against agreed outputs and objectives, or it becomes clear that avenues of work are no longer worth pursuing, multi-year agreements may be terminated at the discretion of the Forestry Commission.
Intellectual Property Rights and rights to genetic resources
Intellectual property and rights to genetic resources shall remain with grant recipients. Grant recipients should have appropriate Material Supply Agreements in place with the landowners and other interested parties involved in sourcing and final planting locations of material to cover ownership of the resulting genetic resources and intellectual property rights.
Long term use of the Seed Stands and Seed Orchards
As stated in the eligibility criteria, all Seed Stands and Orchards resulting from the SSG funding must be registered on the National Register of Basic Material and will therefore be subject to the usual FRM inspections (see Marketing forest reproductive material for forestry purposes for more detail). Should these inspections show that the Seed Stand or Orchard is not being properly maintained during the period of grant award, the Forestry Commission reserves the right to claw back funds.
Applicants must declare if they have received, have applied for, or intend to apply for any other government funds. The Forestry Commission will carry out checks on each application using a variety of government tools including the Cabinet Office’s automated grants due diligence tool.
The Forestry Commission is not responsible for any losses, breakages or injuries incurred by the applicant whilst engaged in activities associated with the SSG.
Neither the Forestry Commission nor its respective advisers, directors, officers, members, partners, employees, other staff, or agents:
- Makes any representation or warranty (express or implied) as to the accuracy, reasonableness, or completeness of this guidance; or
- Accepts any responsibility for the information contained in this guidance or for the fairness, accuracy or completeness of that information nor shall any of them be liable for any loss or damage (other than in respect of fraudulent misrepresentation) arising as a result of reliance on such information or any subsequent communication.
Find out more about seed sourcing
In 2022 the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) ran an online event about ‘Seed Sourcing for Trees of the Future’. The sessions contained a range of guidance and advice that may be helpful when preparing your SSG application. You can watch the sessions by following the links below:
- session 1: Welcome and overview of seed sourcing in England
- session 2: An introduction to Forest Reproductive Material (including how to register basic material on the FRM system)
- session 3: Scientific considerations in seed sourcing (including the importance of genetic diversity)
- session 4: Commercial seed collecting and the needs of seed collectors
- session 5: Approaches to developing and managing seed sources
- session 6: Landowner and manager perspectives