A new woodland creation scheme from Forestry England, which offers rent to landowners including public bodies, environmental NGOs and farmers, in return for a long-term lease, has launched.

The Forestry England Woodland Partnership is described as a chance to diversify landholding and farming businesses, which requires limited financial investment, no forestry expertise and guarantees regular payments.

As part of the Nature for Climate Fund to support the government’s tree planting commitment, the scheme aims to create significant new areas of high-quality, biodiverse woodlands across England.

Forestry England is looking for applications from a wide range of landowners able to offer a minimum of 50 ha for a long-term lease of between 60 and 120 years. Once a lease partnership is agreed, Forestry England will design, plant and manage every site as part of the nation’s forests including any local consultations or engagement.

This means landowners will see thriving woodland established on their land without the need for capital investment or their own forestry expertise and will receive an annual rental payment for the duration of the lease, Forestry England said.

Sitting alongside existing grants and incentives available for woodland creation, the new scheme is open for applications from now until 1 June 2021.

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To be suitable for a lease partnership sites will need to meet several criteria, including being accessible to both Forestry England vehicles and the public once the woodland is established. 

Some sites won’t be suitable for woodland creation. Landowners will have a chance to discuss this when they apply and Forestry England will make detailed assessments before developing full proposals for new woodlands, which will all meet the UK Forestry Standard.

Forestry minister Lord Goldsmith said: “This scheme could be the perfect fit for landowners, local authorities, farmers and land managers looking to help tackle the climate and nature crises now upon us, and I urge anyone thinking about creating woodlands to apply.

“As part of our ambitious tree-planting commitments and commitment to increase access to nature, we need to see thriving biodiverse woodlands established. This scheme will not only contribute towards climate mitigation, but also provide a huge range of other benefits for the environment, nature and people.”

Mike Seddon, Forestry England chief executive, added: “This is a new and exciting approach for Forestry England. It’s a scheme for anyone who has land which could support a large area of woodland. We are keen to expand the nation’s forests and all the benefits they bring for people, wildlife and nature recovery through long-term partnerships with landowners. I believe we have created a great offer that complements other ways to create woodland.”

Detailed information on the Forestry England Woodland Partnership and how to apply is on Forestry England’s website.

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