Guidance

Woodland Creation Planning Grant

Find out what’s involved in, and how to apply for, this grant to support your development of a proposal to create woodland.

Applies to England

Landowners, land managers and public bodies (other than Forestry England) can apply to the Forestry Commission to support the design of new woodland under the Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG). 

You can apply for £1,000 to complete stage 1 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template (MS Word Document, 242 KB). This is a desk-based exercise to identify the constraints and opportunities that may affect the proposed planting. If there’s potential for woodland creation to take place on the site, then you will be offered a stage 2 payment. At stage 2, you can get £150 per hectare, minus the £1,000 offered at stage 1, to complete stage 2 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template. You may get supplementary payments for specialist survey work if a need for them is identified at stage 1. 

If your application is under ten hectares in size, we will make a minimum payment of £500 for stage 2.

The total amount of funding is capped at £30,000 per project. 

Read our Woodland Creation Planning Grant leaflet (PDF, 651 KB, 4 pages) for a helpful overview of the scheme.

Find out if you’re eligible

On 2 November 2020, the minimum application size and block size was reduced and we have removed the requirement that 70% of the species proposed for planting will achieve minimum growth rates.

You must plan to create woodland that is: 

  • located in England
  • a minimum of five hectares or more in total size. If the proposed woodland is split into different blocks, each block must meet the definition of woodland set out by the National Forest Inventory: a minimum area of 0.5 hectares and a minimum width of 20 meters.  

If you intend to seek grant aid to plant the woodland, you should consider the minimum areas required to apply for grants for woodland creation when planning your proposal.

Landscape-scale applications that span multiple land holdings may be accepted. You do not need to own or control the land, but you will need a letter confirming that the landowner(s) support the application. If your proposed site spans a border, we will only make a stage 2 payment of £150 per hectare on the land that is in England.

You may include more than 20% of designed open space in your plan if the constraints of your site make this necessary, but the total stage 2 payment will be limited to the net planting area plus 20% (of the gross area). This means that any designed open space in your plan over and above 20% of the total project area will not receive funding.

If you’ve already applied for Countryside Stewardship, the Woodland Carbon Fund, the HS2 Woodland Fund, or submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) enquiry form to plant a new woodland, you are not eligible to apply for Woodland Creation Planning Grant on that site. 

If you are already in receipt of a WCPG stage 1 agreement offer, you may request the addition of new blocks of proposed woodland over 0.5 hectares. If we agree to these additions, the future stage 2 offer will include these areas from 26 October 2020. To bring new blocks into their agreement, stage 1 agreement holders will need to submit a revised stage 1 Woodland Creation Design Plan Template which covers the expanded project area. No additional stage 1 payment will be made. We will not retrospectively add new areas for existing agreement holders with an existing stage 2 offer. If you are an agreement holder at stage 2 and would like to extend the project area in line with the new rules, you will need to submit a new application to us.

Biodiversity, habitats and environment

Existing native, semi-natural habitats are likely to have a high value for biodiversity, and for landscape and visual interest. This will need to be compared with the value of new woodland. The Forestry Commission does not support the conversion of priority habitats, such as deep peat or active raised bogs.

Where the proposed planting is on semi-natural habitat, the presumption is that the planting will be restricted to native broadleaved species or retained as open ground, adding to the forest mosaic. 

Find out more about woodland species, habitats protection and the Government’s principles for afforestation on or near to Priority Habitats. 

How it works

The funding will support you to gather and analyse the information that you need to make sure your proposal takes into account: 

  • biodiversity 
  • landscape 
  • water 
  • historic environment
  • local stakeholders (to support your engagement with stakeholders, please share this letter to request stakeholder input (MS Word Document, 95 KB) with them when you contact them for information to explain how their response will be used)

You’ll have to develop a UK Forestry Standard-compliant plan for woodland creation that shows any constraints and opportunities, and how these are accounted for.

If your land is already under an existing grant agreement, then your woodland creation design plan must cover the impact of tree planting on that agreement. 

You’ll receive payments in two stages and you may be eligible for Supplementary payments (see below). 

Creating a Woodland Creation Design Plan

You will need to complete this Woodland Creation Design Plan Template (MS Word Document, 242 KB) in two stages: 

Stage 1

You must not start work on stage 1 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template (MS Word Document, 242 KB) until you have a signed agreement from the Forestry Commission. 

Stage 1 requires you to complete a desk-based exercise, identifying constraints and opportunities for your site. You will compile your data in stage 1 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template and give supporting documents, including at least a site context map.

If the Forestry Commission decides there’s potential for planting woodland on the proposed site then you’ll be offered a stage 2 payment. 

Stage 2

Do not start work on stage 2 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan template until you have a stage 2 offer from the Forestry Commission. 

You get a stage 2 payment for producing a Woodland Creation Design Plan by completing stage 2 of the template. You will find a list of required maps and plans in the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template. This includes:

  • a site context map
  • a site appraisal plan
  • a design concept plan and final design plan 

If stage 1 of the Woodland Creation Design Plan Template indicates that there’s potential for woodland at the site then you will get an offer of stage 2 funding, including any supplementary payments where relevant.

The Forestry Commission makes the stage 2 payment on approval of your completed Woodland Creation Design Plan Template and the documentation that supports it. 

The Woodland Creation Design Plan Template and supporting documents required at stage 1 and stage 2 will demonstrate a design process, from a survey of the site’s key features to analysis of how they will affect the proposed woodland’s design to synthesis, bringing this information together into an informed design for the woodland.

All elements of the woodland creation design plan you finally submit (including any specials reports and surveys funded through a supplementary payment) should be clearly referred to in your Woodland Creation Design Plan, showing how those elements of survey and analysis were brought together to produce a UK Forestry Standard-compliant plan that is suited to your site in particular. 

Forestry Commission approval of your woodland creation design plan does not provide approval to plant. If you wish to plant the woodland, then it will still be subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (as amended) and consultation. Find out more about EIAs. 

Supplementary payments

If the information you collect during stage 1 indicates that a more detailed assessment is needed (such as a peat depth survey, or an archaeological survey) then you can apply for a supplementary payment. Where appropriate, the work required under the supplementary payment will need to follow the approach set out in the appropriate standard brief(s).

The current standard brief(s) are:

  • Peat Depth Survey
  • Breeding birds
  • Vegetation / habitats

These standard brief(s) are available on our Natural environment survey and assessment instructions.

  • Archaeology – analytical survey
  • Archaeology – geophysical survey

To request a copy of a Standard Brief for Archaeology please email WCPG@forestrycommission.gov.uk.

To apply for a supplementary payment complete the  supplementary payments application form. You should submit this with Stage 1 of the Woodland Creation Design Template. You cannot apply for supplementary payments before you have been offered stage 1 funding. 

How to apply

You can apply year-round. The Forestry Commission aims to respond to your application within 15 working days. It may take longer if the application includes untrialled tree species or is in a sensitive location. You must have a signed agreement in place before you start work. Please read the WCPG terms and conditions (PDF, 152 KB, 12 pages).

You’ll need the landowner’s consent and signature if you don’t own the land, and the Forestry Commission may ask to see your tenancy agreement to confirm your land management responsibilities.

In part 2 of the application form (below), you’ll need to outline your planting proposals, and the Forestry Commission may contact you to finalise some details. 

Submit an application form

Complete the application form and return it by email to: WCPG@forestrycommission.gov.uk

If you can’t apply by email send paper copies to:


Woodland Creation Planning Grant
Forestry Commission  
National Office, England  
620 Bristol Business Park  
Coldharbour Lane  
Bristol, BS16 1EJ  

If you decide to appoint an agent to apply for funding on your behalf then you must complete a Forestry Commission agent authority form to give your consent. 

Further funding

Once you have a completed and approved woodland creation design plan, you can use this to apply for: 

Appeals

You can appeal against a Forestry Commission decision. 

Contact the Forestry Commission

Contact the WCPG team for more information WCPG@forestrycommission.gov.uk

Forest Research

The research agency of the Forestry Commission offer a range of services that will help with pest and disease control, and also offer resources such as publications, statistics and datasets. 

Published 9 July 2018
Last updated 26 July 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added: Woodland Creation Planning Grant - terms and conditions.

  2. Woodland Creation Design Plan Template updated

  3. Information added for new Natural environment survey and assessment instructions

  4. Added the Woodland Creation Planning Grant leaflet.

  5. Updated information on supplementary payments.

  6. The 'Archaeology' standard brief has been added to this page.

  7. Updates to the grant rules and eligibility.

  8. First published.