Guidance

Tree health pilot scheme

Find out how you can take part in a pilot to help slow the spread of pests and diseases in trees.

Applies to England

About the tree health pilot scheme

The tree health pilot scheme will test different ways of slowing the spread of pests and diseases in specific trees.

It expands on support already available through the Countryside Stewardship woodland tree health grant.

The Forestry Commission will invite people and groups in target areas to take part in the pilot, which runs from August 2021 to 2024. Around 100 grant agreements will be allocated through an application process.

You might be invited to take part because you have a specific tree, pest or disease on your land. You might still be able to take part if you were not invited but you think you’re eligible.

If your application is successful, you’ll get a grant to help pay back some of the costs of carrying out work to remove and replace diseased trees.

The results of the pilot will help develop the future funding policy for tree health schemes.

Who can take part

The pilot is for people who manage specific trees or woodlands affected by specific pests and diseases in the following regions of England:

  • North West, primarily targeting Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Lake District National Park
  • South East and London, primarily targeting Kent and East Sussex
  • West Midlands, primarily targeting the Malvern Hills AONB and Shropshire Hills AONB

You might still be able to take part if you’re outside a primary target area but you’re within an eligible region, and your application significantly contributes to the learning from the pilot.

You can check which region your tree or woodlands are in on the boundaries map from the Forestry Commission.

The trees or woodlands you manage must be one of the following:

  • ash with ash dieback
  • larch with Phytophthora ramorum
  • spruce growing in the high-risk spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) area
  • sweet chestnut with Phytophthora ramorum or sweet chestnut blight

You must be a:

  • landowner
  • occupier
  • tenant
  • landlord
  • licensor

You can also apply if you manage trees on behalf of other people, for example if you’re from a local council, a charity or you’re a land agent.

You’ll usually be invited to take part in the pilot because you’ve been contacted by a Forestry Commission woodland officer. For example, you might have been given a Statutory Plant Health Notice (SPHN) which covers trees affected by one of the specified pests or diseases.

If you’ve not been invited and you think you’re eligible, you might still be able to take part if you meet the requirements.

If you’re eligible and want to take part, you’ll need to fill in an expression of interest form with some brief information about your trees and land. The Forestry Commission will then carry out an initial assessment and site visit. Based on this assessment and site visit you might be invited to make a full application.

Applications will be scored competitively through a selection process based on maximising the learning from the pilot.

If you’re not eligible to take part in this pilot, you might be able to apply for the Countryside Stewardship woodland tree health grant instead.

Before you apply, a Forestry Commission woodland officer will visit your trees or woodlands. If they find a notifiable pest or disease in your trees, you might be issued with an SPHN. This means you’ll be legally required to deal with the pest or disease problem you have, even if you do not receive funding as part of this pilot.

If you’re already getting other funding

You cannot take part in this pilot if you already get funding through other agri-environment or woodland schemes, such as the Countryside Stewardship woodland tree health grant, for the same activities for your trees or woodlands.

You can still get funding through the pilot scheme if you’re already in another scheme, as long as you’re not paid twice for the same work.

You must not use the money to pay for work you have already carried out before accepting a grant agreement under the pilot.

Individual and group applications

You can apply on your own, or as a group in some situations. For example, if you and your neighbours have the same tree species with the same pest or disease, you might want to apply together. Some grants you can only apply for as a group.

Group applications must have a person, called a facilitator, who’ll have overall responsibility for the application and the work. They’ll be responsible for making sure that everyone does the work they’ve agreed to and providing evidence to the Forestry Commission.

The facilitator could be someone you nominate for your group, a private agent or an organisation such as a local council, woodland initiative or wildlife trust.

Group grants will include an hourly fee for this person to pay towards their work organising and coordinating the group work. This fee cannot exceed the total value of grants you apply for.

What it covers

The tree health pilot scheme covers trees both in woodlands and outside of woodlands, depending on which grant you apply for.

If you’re applying for trees in a woodland, the group of trees you’re applying for must:

  • cover at least 0.5 hectares
  • be at least 5 metres high, or will grow to this height
  • have a crown cover of more than 20% of the ground area

Trees outside of woodlands are any trees or small woods which cover an area of less than 0.5 hectares, such as trees in hedgerows, along a road or in parks.

Depending on the type of grant you apply for, funding can go towards paying back some of the costs of:

  • felling diseased trees, which means cutting down trees for removal, waste or wood chipping
  • chemically killing diseased trees
  • restocking and capital items to replace trees that you’ve felled because they have pests or diseases – your restocking plans, for example the species and planting density used, must comply with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and any felling licence conditions
  • infrastructure and access aids, for example to improve access to trees, so you can fell and remove them
  • maintenance of trees you’ve planted to replace trees you’ve felled, for example weeding costs
  • biosecurity items to stop pests and diseases being transferred, for example a pressure washer to clean vehicles and equipment
  • facilitation fees for a person to manage your group’s application
  • road closure costs and protected species site surveys, if you’re applying for ash with ash dieback only

The tree types or pests and diseases, grants or rates of payment might be changed, removed or added throughout the pilot. Your agreement will not be affected by any changes made after you’ve signed it.

About the grants

Your grant application must have a minimum value of £500. Use the payment tables under each tree type to work out how much you want to apply for.

Some grants cover up to a percentage of ‘actual costs’ and others are based on ‘standard costs’. The tables will tell you whether it’s one or the other.

Actual costs means the total amount it costs for you to carry out the work or buy goods and services.

Standard costs means an amount which has been worked out based on the average market prices for buying or doing something.

Grants for ash with ash dieback

You can apply for grants for trees inside woodlands and for trees outside of woodlands as part of a group application only.

While there are no grants for felling ash with ash dieback, there are grants available to help with other costs associated with felling, for example road closure costs.

If you need to fell ash trees, you’ll need to get a felling licence, unless the Forestry Commission confirms the ash trees are dangerous and exempt. Read about managing ash trees affected by ash dieback.

Road closure grants to improve access to your trees will support the costs of any road closures you need to carry out the work. You’ll need to contact your local council to find out how road closures work and how much they cost in your area.

Trees in woodlands

You can apply for grants to pay back the costs of:

  • a European protected species site survey to plan felling and restocking activities so you do not cause harm or disturbance to protected species. If you cannot carry out the work without disturbing protected species, you’ll need a licence from Natural England
  • road closures while you fell your trees
  • facilitation fees, for someone to manage the application on behalf of the group
  • restocking and capital items, for replacing the trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve applied for a restocking grant. This is paid at the end of your agreement year for 3 years to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs

Trees outside of woodlands

You can apply for grants to pay back the costs of:

  • restocking and capital items, to replace the trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve applied for a restocking grant. This is paid at the end of your agreement year for 3 years to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs
  • a European protected species site survey to plan felling and restocking activities so you do not cause harm or disturbance to protected species. If you cannot carry out the work without disturbing protected species, you’ll need a licence from Natural England
  • road closures while you fell your trees
  • facilitation fees, for someone to manage the application on behalf of the group

Grant payment rates

Use the table to work out which grants you want to apply for.

Type of grant Trees in woodlands Trees outside of woodlands
Road closures Up to 60% of standard costs Up to 60% of standard costs
Facilitation £20 per hour £20 per hour
European protected species surveys Up to 80 % of actual costs Up to 80 % of actual costs
Restocking and capital items Up to £5000 per ha for ancient woodland sites, up to £3930 per ha for other sites £270.44 per large tree, £3.79 for feathers, £2.29 for whips
Maintenance (per year for 3 years) £200 per ha Up to £189 per large tree or £0.14 per feather or whip

Grants for larch with Phytophthora ramorum

You can apply for grants for trees inside woodlands as an individual or as a group.

Individual grants will pay back the costs of:

  • felling, for trees where you cannot sell the timber or recover your costs from selling it – you can only apply for this in combination with an infrastructure and access aids grant or if your trees are over the age of 25
  • chemically killing the trees, if advised by the Forestry Commission
  • infrastructure and access aids, to improve access to your woodlands, for example a temporary road surface so you can remove felled trees
  • biosecurity items, to prevent the spread of pests and diseases

While you cannot get a restocking or capital items grant for individual applications as part of this pilot, you can apply for grants through the Countryside Stewardship woodland tree health grant.

Group grants will pay for everything that individual grants cover and:

  • restocking and capital items, to replace the felled trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve applied for a restocking grant. This is paid at the end of your agreement year for 3 years to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs
  • facilitation fees, for someone to manage the application on behalf of the group

Grant payment rates

Use the table to work out which grants you want to apply for.

Type of grant Individual applications Group applications
Felling Between £260 and £1680 per ha dependent on how you fell the trees – you only apply for this in combination with an infrastructure and access aids grant or if your trees are over the age of 25 Between £260 and £1680 per ha dependent on how you fell the trees
Chemical killing £8.30 per tree £8.30 per tree
Infrastructure and access aids 40% of costs for permanent infrastructure or up 60% of temporary access aids 40% of costs for permanent infrastructure or 60% of temporary access aids
Biosecurity items 40% of costs for bought items or 60% for hired items 40% of costs for bought items or 60% for hired items
Facilitation fees Not available £20 per hour
Restocking and capital items Not available Up to £5000 for ancient woodland sites, up to £3930 for other sites
Maintenance (per year for 3 years) Not available £200 per ha

Grants for spruce with or at risk of spruce bark beetle

To apply for grants for spruce with spruce bark beetle, you’ll either:

Applications with an SPHN or in the high risk area highlighted in red on the demarcated area map will be prioritised.

You can apply for grants for trees inside and outside woodlands and you can apply as an individual or a group.

You can get grants to pay back the costs of:

  • felling, for trees where you cannot sell the timber or recover your costs from selling it
  • infrastructure and access aids, to improve access to your trees, for example a temporary road surface so you can remove felled trees
  • restocking and capital items, to replace the trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve also applied for a restocking grant. This is money paid every year to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs
  • facilitation fees, for someone to manage the application for your group

Grant payment rates

Use the table to work out which grants you want to apply for.

Type of grant Trees in woodlands - individual applications Trees in woodlands - group applications Trees outside of woodlands - individual applications Trees outside of woodlands - group applications
Felling Up to 80% of actual costs where you would make a loss on the sale of the timber Up to 80% of actual costs where you would make a loss on the sale of the timber Up to 80% of actual costs where you would make a loss on the sale of the timber Up to 80% of actual costs where you would make a loss on the sale of the timber
Infrastructure and access aids 40% of costs for permanent infrastructure, 60% of costs for temporary access aids 40% for permanent infrastructure, 60% of costs for temporary access aids 40% for permanent infrastructure, 60% of costs for temporary access aids 40% for permanent infrastructure, 60% of costs for temporary access aids
Biosecurity items Up to 60% of costs for hired items, up to 40% of costs for bought items Up to 60% of costs for hired items, up to 40% of costs for bought items Up to 60% of costs for hired items, up to 40% of costs for bought items Up to 60% of costs for hired items, up to 40% of costs for bought items
Facilitation fees Not available £20 per hour Not available £20 per hour
Restocking and capital items Up to £5000 per ha for ancient woodlands, and up to £3930 per ha for other sites Up to £5000 per ha for ancient woodlands, and up to £3930 per ha for other sites £270.44 per large tree, £3.79 for feathers, £2.29 for whips £270.44 per large tree, £3.79 for feathers, £2.29 for whips
Maintenance (per year for 3 years) £200 per ha £200 per ha Up to £189 per large tree, or £0.14 per feather or whip Up to £189 per large tree, or £0.14 per feather or whip

Grants for sweet chestnut with Phytophthora ramorum or sweet chestnut blight

You can apply for grants for trees in woodlands and trees outside of woodlands.

Trees in woodlands

You can apply for individual or group grants.

Individual grants will pay back the costs of:

  • felling, for trees where you cannot sell the timber or recover your costs from selling it
  • chemical killing of trees with Phytophthora ramorum, if advised by the Forestry Commission
  • infrastructure and access aids, to improve access to your trees, for example a temporary road surface so you can remove felled trees
  • biosecurity items, to prevent the spread of pests and diseases

While you cannot get a restocking or capital items grant for individual applications as part of this pilot, you can apply for grants through the Countryside Stewardship woodland tree health grant.

Group grants will pay for everything that individual grants cover and:

  • restocking and capital items, to replace the trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve also applied for a restocking grant. This is paid at the end of your agreement year for 3 years to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs

Trees outside of woodlands

You can apply for individual or group grants to pay back the costs of:

  • felling, for trees where you cannot sell the timber or recover your costs from selling it
  • chemical killing of trees with Phytophthora ramorum, if advised by the Forestry Commission
  • infrastructure and access aids, to improve access to your trees, for example a temporary road surface so you can remove felled trees
  • biosecurity items, to prevent the spread of pests and diseases
  • restocking and capital items, to replace trees with different species which are more likely to withstand pests, diseases and climate change, and items to protect them, such as fencing or netting
  • maintenance, if you’ve also applied for a restocking grant. This is paid at the end of your agreement year for 3 years to help establish new trees, for example to pay towards weeding costs
  • facilitation fees, for someone to manage a group application

Grant payment rates

Use the table to work out which grants you want to apply for.

Type of grant Trees in woodlands – individual applications Trees in woodlands – group applications Trees outside of woodlands – individual applications Trees outside of woodlands – group applications
Felling 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs
Chemical killing 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs 80% of actual costs
Infrastructure and access aids 40% of actual costs for permanent infrastructure, 60% of actual costs for temporary access aids 40% of actual costs for permanent infrastructure, 60% of actual costs for temporary access aids 40% of actual costs for permanent infrastructure, 60% of actual costs for temporary access aids 40% of actual costs for permanent infrastructure, 60% of actual costs for temporary access aids
Biosecurity items Up to 60% of actual costs for hired items, up to 40% of actual costs for bought items Up to 60% of actual costs for hired items, up to 40% of actual costs for bought items Up to 60% of actual costs for hired items, up to 40% of actual costs for bought items Up to 60% of actual costs for hired items, up to 40% of actual costs for bought items
Facilitation fee Not available £20 per hour Not available £20 per hour
Restocking and capital items Not available Up to £5000 per ha for ancient woodlands, up to £3930 for other sites £270.44 per large tree, £3.79 for feathers, £2.29 for whips £270.44 per large tree, £3.79 for feathers, £2.29 for whips
Maintenance (per year for 3 years) Not available £200 per ha £189 per large tree, £0.14 per feather or whip £189 per large tree, £0.14 per feather or whip

Your responsibilities

There are things you’ll have to do to successfully take part in the pilot.

Before your application

You’ll need to gather evidence for your application, such as detailed maps and quotes.

You’ll also need to register with the Rural Payments Agency to get a single business identifier (SBI) number for your application.

After your application

If your application is successful, you’ll be required to provide feedback for the duration of your agreement. This could be through filling out a survey, attending online workshops with other participants or one on one conversations with researchers. Your feedback will help contribute towards the design of future tree health schemes.

You’ll also need to:

  1. Complete biosecurity training – an online webinar about reducing the spread of pests and diseases.

  2. Fill in a biosecurity management plan, which is a form that outlines what you’ll need to do to reduce the risk of spreading pests and diseases on the land you’re applying for.

  3. Complete the works you’ve got the funding for, through carrying out the work yourself, or buying the goods or services you need.

  4. Keep detailed records and submit evidence that you’ve completed the work, for example receipts or photos. Evidence might also be gathered from a visit by a woodland officer.

Advice and support you can get

You can get help and advice from:

  • a woodland officer in your area, for example specific recommendations for your trees or woodlands
  • other participants, through workshops to learn from each other’s experiences
  • the technical guidance provided, for best practice ways of carrying out the work you’ve agreed to

How to take part

Fill in the tree health pilot scheme expression of interest form (ODT, 38.6 KB).

Email or post your completed form to the Forestry Commission.

Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission
FAO Tree Health Pilot
Incentives Development Team
Sustainable Forest Management
620 Bristol Business Park
Bristol
BS16 1EJ

What happens next

A Forestry Commission representative will contact you to discuss your circumstances and make an initial decision on whether you’re suitable to take part in the pilot. This will usually happen within 3 weeks of you sending your form.

You’ll then get an application form to fill in, which will ask for more detailed information about the trees and grants you want to apply for.

You’ll find out if your application has been successful and the amount of money you’ll get to spend within approximately 6 weeks of the Forestry Commission receiving your completed application form.

You can appeal against a Forestry Commission decision.

Example biosecurity items you can buy or hire

You can use this grant to pay back what you spend on items such as:

  • washing stations for equipment or machinery
  • washing bowsers
  • static wash stations for boots
  • vehicle washing stations
  • burners, chippers, bark strippers
  • pressure washers

How you can use infrastructure and access aids grants

You can use these grants to improve access to woodlands so you can fell and remove the timber. The works can include:

  • culverts and other road and trackside drainage
  • extraction tracks for mechanised timber extraction to a transfer point
  • haulage roads and turning points
  • haulage road entrances or laybys
  • profiling and paving timber transfer points and stacking areas
  • woodland security such as gates for new entrance points

You’ll need to make sure that work you do meets the legal standards for roads and tracks. For more information, read the guidance on improving infrastructure.

You can also use the money to hire access aids, which includes items such as:

  • hard standings, a hard surface for cars or trucks to park
  • horse logging
  • log chutes
  • metal standing tracks
  • pile logs
  • skylines

You’ll need to provide detailed plans including maps and quotes for the proposed work to apply for an infrastructure grant.

Restocking and capital items you can buy

You can use these grants to pay back what you spend on items from this list.

Capital items Payment rate Aim Additional notes Mandatory or optional
Tree planting (woodland only) £1.28 per tree To supply, plant and weed young trees and protect with a 0.6m spiral guard Spiral not needed in some circumstances – this needs to be agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Mandatory in order to apply for a tree health restocking grant
Tree planting - large trees (trees outside of woodlands) £270.44 per tree Supply containerised standard tree. Size (10 to 12cm up to 16 to 18cm) used dependent on location. Supply standard lightweight galvanised mesh steel tree guard. Size: 1800mm x 360mm Tree guard not needed in some circumstances – this needs to be agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Mandatory in order to apply for tree health pilot restocking grant
Tree planting - feathers (trees outside of woodlands) £3.79 per tree Supply and plant small tree. Supply a 1.2m tube, treated softwood stake, and labour Tree guard not needed in some circumstances – this needs to be agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Mandatory in order to apply for tree health pilot restocking grant
Tree planting - whips (trees outside of woodlands) £2.29 per tree Supply and plant whip tree. Supply a 0.7m tree shelter, mulch and labour Tree guard not needed in some circumstances – this needs to be agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Mandatory in order to apply for tree health pilot restocking grant
Individual tree shelter £1.60 per unit To protect young trees with a tree shelter This supplement can only be used with tree planting. Shelter height to be agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Fencing £4 per metre Method of stock control, to help habitat management or protect environmental features This item can be used with individual tree shelters where appropriate and agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Sheep netting £4.90 per metre Exclude sheep to protect environmental features This item can be used with individual tree shelters where appropriate and agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Rabbit fencing supplement £2.50 per metre Supplement to fencing or sheep netting, or deer fence to exclude rabbits to help protect environmental features This supplement can only be used alongside one of the following capital items: fencing, sheep netting, deer fencing. This item can be used with individual tree shelters where appropriate and agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Fencing supplement – difficult site £1.24 per metre Supplement to fencing to cover the extra costs of fencing on a difficult site Fencing to cover the extra costs of fencing on a difficult site. This can only be used alongside one of the following capital items: fencing, sheep netting, deer fencing. This item can be used with individual tree shelters where appropriate and agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Permanent deer fencing £7.20 per metre To protect newly created woodland from deer browsing This item can be used with individual tree shelter where agreed with your Forestry Commission woodland officer Optional
Temporary deer fencing £5.20 per metre To protect newly created or existing woodland from deer browsing as part of a wider woodland creation or woodland management project When used in combination with permanent deer fencing, the temporary fencing must be deer proof Optional
Wooden field gate or wooden wings £390 per gate Facilitate stock management and keep livestock out of watercourses When used with permanent deer fencing, the gate must be deer proof Optional
Badger gate £135 per gate Provide badgers unrestricted access either side of a newly erected fence, which crosses known badger routes Can only be used with one of the following items: fencing, sheep netting, rabbit fencing, fencing difficult sites, deer fencing Optional
Water gates £240 per gate Use across stream in conjunction with other stock control options to keep livestock and deer out of new planting Can only be used on fence lines across streams, with other stock or deer control items Optional
Deer pedestrian gate £271.50 per gate To install a deer proof pedestrian gate within the deer fence to allow access or enable woodland management When used with permanent deer fencing, the pedestrian gate must be deer proof Optional
Deer vehicle gate £344.60 per gate To install a deer proof vehicle gate within the deer fence to allow access or enable woodland management When used with permanent deer fencing, the vehicle gate must be deer proof Optional
Deer high seat £300 per unit To provide a safe, temporary vantage point from which to cull deer to relieve browsing pressure Not applicable Optional
Stone wall restoration £25 per metre Rebuild stone walls to make them stock proof and restore their landscape value Not applicable Optional
Top wiring – stone wall maintenance £3.60 per metre To control stock by adding a top wire onto a stone wall Not applicable Optional
Stone wall supplement – stone from quarry £44 per metre To make sure that wall restoration can be finished where there’s not enough reusable stone on-farm, and stone has to be sourced from an off-site quarry Not applicable Optional

Technical guidance and advice

Read the technical guidance for more information about carrying out the work, good practice guidelines and advice for things like keeping records. There’s advice for:

Published 31 August 2021