Guidance

Urban Tree Challenge Fund

Find out what’s involved and how to apply for funding to support the planting and establishment of standard trees in urban and peri-urban areas in England.

Applies to England

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund will reopen to new applications in early 2023, please subscribe to our eAlert for updates.

To apply for UTCF applicants will need to register with Rural Payments to obtain a Single Business Identifier (SBI).

UTCF first opened in 2019 and to date has held 4 rounds of funding. UTCF supports both block bids and individual applications. A block bid is designed for organisations to apply for funding for multiple projects that can be geographically dispersed or focused in one area but submitted under one application.

The UTCF provides funding for anyone who wants to plant trees in urban or peri-urban areas, if you have full management control or consent to use the land for the duration of your agreement and your planting location is within an urban area (see definition of eligible land).

The fund provides a contribution toward published standard costs for planting and establishment. The remaining costs of planting and establishing trees supported under the UTCF must be met through match funding, either in the form of money or labour. Agreement holders can complete tree planting over two planting seasons. However, applications must have at least 50% of tree planting scheduled in the first year of agreement.

The UTCF is a competitive fund and your application will be scored to identify projects that will provide the greatest environmental and social benefits to an area. Value for money may also be considered, with additional points being awarded where applications demonstrate this (for example, by containing a higher number of trees relative to competing applications).

Find out if you’re eligible

Who can apply?

Anyone can apply for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), if you either have full management control over the land or signed consent from those with management control over the land for the duration of the Agreement. Agents are also able to apply on behalf of an organisation or landowner. Any individual or organisation can submit up to 2 distinct applications to the UTCF. Multiple applications from the same applicant will be ranked and scored independently from one another.

Where the applicant does not have full management control over the land in the application (for example, the applicant is a tenant, trustee, joint owner or representative of a group of adjoining owners), we will require written permission from all parties with management control over the land before an agreement can be issued. This should come in the form of countersignatures on the application form.

Land submitted in an UTCF application does not need to be registered on the Rural Land Register, but applicants will need to register with Rural Payments to obtain a Single Business Identifier (SBI) and a Customer Reference Number (CRN). This must be provided on the application form.

Eligible land

Land included in a UTCF application must fall within an urban area. An urban area, as defined for the purposes of the UTCF, is a built-up area (based on Office of National Statistics data) with a population of at least 2,000 people, and a buffer of 1km to account for peri-urban planting. This can be identified on the Forestry Commission map browser using the ‘UTCF Trees Close to People’ layer located in the Targeting and Scoring list of map layers. You must confirm in your application that your land falls entirely within this map layer.

How to apply

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund will reopen to new applications in early 2023, please subscribe to our eAlert for updates.

Further information

UTCF will re-open in 2023, further information including revised application forms and an updated grant manual will be published in due course. Please sign up to receive FC e-alerts to be kept up to date with information about the fund including when it opens.

Maps

You must submit a map with your application, identifying the areas proposed for planting. Maps should be produced at a scale of 1:1,250. Where application areas are in more than one geographical area, a map for each will be required. For further information about mapping standards please refer to the UTCF grant manual.

Terms and conditions

Terms and Conditions will be published once the fund re-opens.

How it works

What is funded

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund provides a contribution toward funding of standard costs for planting large trees and their establishment costs for 3 years following planting. The funding supports the cost of buying and planting a tree, the cost of basic protection and the labour required to plant it.

Establishment payments support the cost of weeding, watering and checking trees during multiple visits over a 3 year period. The full range of standard cost items will be published when the fund re-opens in 2023.

Advice and best practice

The Forestry Commission will not provide technical advice for your application. It is up to you to source expert advice from a competent person to ensure your planting proposal meets best practice. We suggest you follow the best practice advice found in the Urban Tree Manual.

We consider experts to include persons with membership to a professional body. Examples of this can include, but are not limited to:

  • Institute of Chartered Foresters
  • Arboricultural Association
  • London Tree Officer’s Association
  • Municipal Tree Officers Association
  • National Association of Tree Officers

Read our case study

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund opened in 2019 and to date has held four rounds of applications. Durham County Council have submitted bids and been successful in three of the four rounds. You can find out more about how they used their grant in our case study: Urban Tree Challenge Fund case study: Durham County Council (PDF, 723 KB, 2 pages).

Contact the Forestry Commission

You can get help from the Forestry Commission by emailing UTCF@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Make an appeal

Find out how to make a complaint or appeal.

Published 18 May 2019
Last updated 4 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Edited as the application window for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund has now closed.

  2. Addition of a case study.

  3. Addition of frequently asked questions guide.

  4. Page updated to reflect the application window re-opening for the next round of funding.

  5. General page updates.

  6. Page updated to reflect that the application window for the fund has now closed.

  7. Added: terms and conditions for round 3 of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund

  8. Updated to include information on 2021 application round.

  9. The application window for Round 2 of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund has been extended to 30 June 2020.

  10. This page has been updated to say that the application window for Round 2 is open from 30 March 2020 to 31 May 2020.

  11. This page has been updated with information about Round 2 of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

  12. Updates to the scheme arrangements for round 2.

  13. Update to reflect the end of year one applications.

  14. Grant details updated following the closure of the year 1 application window on 31 August 2019.

  15. Update on application date extension and lowering minimum value for block bids.

  16. This page has been updated with information on species selection (under the 'Species selection and spacing matrix' heading) and the minimum application value (under the 'Application and planting requirements' heading).

  17. Update to include scheme forms, rules and eligibility.

  18. First published.