REASONS TO PLANT WOODLAND ON YOUR FARM

REASONS TO PLANT WOODLAND ON YOUR FARM

Robert Gazely

Robert Gazely

Oct, 31 2022

If you are considering planting trees on your farm, there are several ways in which you can receive support, both in the form of advice and through grants that fund the planting and management of new plantations.

Why plant trees?

Strategic tree planting can have many benefits for farming businesses. It can, for example:

  1. Improve farm resilience and provide another income source for farms through timber, fruit, or nuts
  2. Improve the farmed environment
  3. Improve privacy and water quality, reduce flood risk and create habitats.

Planting woodland can be a great legacy for a farmer, leaving an asset that enhances the farm, whilst also generating a more sustainable future for the farm’s next generation.

Trees are also subject to a range of tax reliefs, like capital gains tax, when woodland is managed as a commercial investment. Income from timber sold from commercial woodland is also exempt from income and corporation tax, and under Woodlands Relief, woodland is exempt from inheritance tax.

How can projects be funded?

Farms can access funding from the Forestry Commission (FC) through the Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) and England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) to plan and pay for strategic tree planting. These schemes provide up to £30,000 for the planning, and up to £8,500/ha for the creation of new woodland. Maintenance payments of £300/ha/year are also included for the first ten-years of the EWCO scheme. The WCPG has a minimum requirement of 5ha, while EWCO requires just 1ha. Farms can apply for the EWCO with several parcels of woodland, as long as they have a width of more than 20m and the total is more than the minimum requirement. It is therefore thought that almost all farms will have pockets of land that could be entered into the EWCO.

Once the ten-years of management has been completed, the farm is able to sell any produce from the woodland such as timber (through thinning only), fruit or nuts. Once established, trees can provide crops for many decades, improving both farm revenue and overall business resilience for future generations.

Can I sell carbon?

Should the farm wish to sell carbon sequestered by the woodland, it is recommended that they register the plantation with the FC’s Woodland Carbon Code before planting. Using the Woodland Carbon Guarantee can ensure a minimum price for carbon credits up to 2055/6, yet does not exclude farmers from selling carbon credits on the open market should prices be more favourable.

Other grants

The Woodland Trust also offer funding for woodland and hedges through the following schemes:

MOREwoods:

  • Funded by Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland as part of a broader commitment to plant one million trees a year over the next decade.
  • 500+ trees are planted as woodland on at least half a hectare (1000-1600 trees/ha).
  • Like EWCO, the total area can be made up of multiple blocks, with a minimum area of 0.1ha.
  • Facilitated through a site visit and follow up design assistance.
  • Bespoke species mix, supply the agreed trees and tree protection.
  • MOREwoods covers up to 75% of planting costs.

MOREhedges:

  • The Woodland Trust can subsidise up to 75% of the cost of new hedging, guards and support.
  • It is encouraged that a large tree is planted every six metres.
  • Must plant over 100m of new hedge.
  • Includes advice and guidance on planting.
  • The MOREhedges project aims to create new ecological links with woodland in the surrounding landscape. New hedging must connect with:
    • at least 0.2 hectares of existing or newly planted woodland
    • woodland via established hedgerows within 500m of the new hedge.

Trees can also be included within Countryside Stewardship applications, with up to £6,800/ha available for the creation of new woodland. Defra currently pays £1.28/tree, yet payment rates vary for native and non-native species.

If you would like to have a conversation about your rural business’ potential tree planting projects, then please get in touch. We’ll be happy to provide our expert advice on your grant opportunities.

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