Tree planting and woodland creation: overview

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

Applies to England

Trees have far-reaching benefits for you, your land, the environment and for future generations. By planting trees to the UK Forest standard (UKFS) coupled with financial support and expert advice, woodlands can help you diversify, generate reliable income streams and deliver environmental benefits that support your wider land management goals. Read our joint statement with Natural England on our position on woodland creation.

Get support to plan a woodland creation project

If you plan to create woodland in England you may be eligible for a grant from the Forestry Commission. We can also provide advice and guidance on the legal regulations you’ll need to follow and how to establish your woodland sustainably. Grants may also be available for planting trees outside of woodland.

Planning a woodland creation project

The Forestry Commission can support you to develop the documents you’ll need to plan a woodland creation project.

Landscape and woodland design

For new woodlands in England, you need to carefully design the site to fit within the landscape and accommodate features of interest. The following guidelines for landscape and woodland design for woodland creation can help you plan the design of your new woodland.

To get regulatory approval and grant funding for your project, your woodland creation design plan must comply with the UK Forestry Standard.

You need to develop a written plan supported by a:

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

Read more about what these plans need to show, and see examples, in our Guide to Planning New Woodland in England.

Find out more about the forest design process in the UK Forestry Standard and the practice guide on Design techniques for forest management planning.

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. You can apply for up to £150 per hectare, plus a 70% contribution to any specialist surveys that are needed, capped at £30,000 per project.

WCPG is for planning only and does not provide approval to plant. Proposals with a woodland creation design plan that has been approved for payment through WCPG are still subject to Environmental Impact Assessment regulations.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The EIA process involves two stages, but most projects only need to undergo the first stage.

If you want to create a new woodland without grant support from the Forestry Commission you may, depending on the size and location of the proposed project, need to submit a ‘stage 1’Forestry Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application.

If your proposal has been through the Woodland Creation Planning Grant and we have approved your woodland creation design plan for grant payment, you can submit the plan alongside your ‘stage 1’ EIA application and you will not need to complete all sections of the application form.

If you are applying for grant support from the Forestry Commission (for example, through the England Woodland Creation Offer), there is no need to engage separately with the EIA process – your grant application to us will be sufficient for us to carry out the EIA process as long as you have included all of the detail asked for in the application. Alternatively, if you have completed the Woodland Creation Planning Grant for your proposal, your approved woodland creation design plan will be used for the EIA process and you don’t need to complete all of the England Woodland Creation Offer application form either.

For more information on the EIA process, visit our EIA overview page.

Funding and grants for woodland creation

You may be eligible for funding and grants to create woodland or plant trees. The Forestry Commission offers a range of funding schemes for woodland creation and tree planting, planning, maintenance, and tree health in England.

England Woodland Creation Offer

Landowners, land managers and public bodies can receive over £10,000 per hectare to create new woodland on areas as small as one hectare.

Funding and grants for non-woodland trees

Local Authority Treescapes Fund

Available to local authorities to support the establishment of trees in non-woodland settings. Find out more about the Local Authority Treescapes Fund.

Urban Tree Challenge Fund

The fund provides 50% of published standard costs for planting and establishment of trees in urban or peri-urban areas, especially in areas of low canopy cover and high social deprivation. Find out more about the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

Other funding opportunities

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. Find out more about the Woodland Carbon Code scheme for buyers and landowners and read our The benefits of woodland creation Woods and Carbon.

The Woodland Carbon Guarantee provides you with the option to sell your captured carbon in the form of verified carbon credits, called Woodland Carbon Units (WCUs), to the government for a guaranteed price. You must first be registered with the Woodland Carbon Code to be eligible, and planting must not have happened yet. We run multiple auctions per year to allocate Woodland Carbon Guarantee funding, and only those who have already applied are able to take part in future auctions.

You can also read our The benefits of woodland creation Woods and Carbon for more information on how woodland creation can help tackle climate change.

Funding from our partners

We work with a number of partners who offer woodland creation opportunities to help provide an option to suit everyone.

For a full list of available grants and incentives, including those from other organisations in the Woodland Creation Partnership, Forestry England and England’s Community Forests, visit our Tree Planting and Woodland Creation: funding and advice page.

Protect Improve Expand Sustain (PIES) Offer

You may be eligible to receive three days of fully-funded advice from an expert, providing you with vital information to support you in taking the next steps in managing existing woodland and/or creating new wooded areas on your property. The offer is provided by a consortium of partners under the Defra-funded PIES project.

Find out more about the PIES Offer 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.

Quick guides and case studies

See our woodland grants and incentives overview table to view at a glance which schemes might be right for you.

Case studies

To hear from those who have already completed successful woodland creation projects on their land, see our collection page Tree planting and woodland creation case studies.

Creating sustainable woodlands

UK Forestry Standard (UKFS)

Read the UKFS, the reference standard for sustainable forest management across the UK.

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.

Sustainability best practice

When designing new woodlands, use the Forest Research tool - Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System (ESC-DSS) - to help you select species ecologically suited to your site.

You should also consider how tree species suitability is likely to change in the future. Find out about tree species and resilience to climate change.

It is important the plants and trees you use are free from pests and diseases. Where possible, get your plants from nurseries with clear plant health management standards in place including, for example, nurseries with Plant Healthy certification or similar.

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:

You must also plan how best to protect the trees that you plant. Find out more about:

Contact the Forestry Commission

Get in touch to find out more about creating woodland on your land. Contact your local Forestry Commission woodland creation team:

Stay up to date

Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about the latest information, advice, and news from the Forestry Commission.

Published 29 October 2021
Last updated 8 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. Added a link to the joint statement with Natural England on our position on woodland creation.

  2. Additional link included to the Forestry Commission newsletter.

  3. Updated to include a link to the new landscape and woodland design for woodland creation guide.

  4. Added: leaflet 'The benefits of woodland creation: Woods for Nature'

  5. Updated contact details for woodland creation teams.

  6. Addition of Woods and Carbon factsheet.

  7. Updated 'How trees benefit your farm business' leaflet (changes: a new maintenance payment rate for EWCO and removed a CS grant which is no longer open).

  8. Addition of guide on 'the benefits of woodland creation: woodad and water'.

  9. "It's time to branch out: How woodland creation benefits your farm" and "Plant your future: Top 5 reasons to plant woodland" added to the page.

  10. Removing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation and Maintenance grant which is now closed for applications.

  11. Woodland Carbon Code leaflet added to the page.

  12. Added Plant your future: The case for trees leaflet.

  13. Removed information about woodland management.

  14. Added to the page: A guide to planning new woodland in England

  15. "How trees benefit your farm business" leaflet updated.

  16. First published.