A MAJOR planting fund is to merge with another government grant – but ministers have promised no one will be worse off when the change comes into effect.

The England Woodland Creation Offer will become part of the Local Nature Recovery scheme – one of the new environmental land management (ELM) schemes – from 2025. 

Offering landowners and farmers a possible one-off payment of £8,500 per hectare, the fund also provides annual maintenance payments of £300 per ha for 10 years. Higher payment rates are also available, which offer thousands more for schemes that provide additional public benefits.

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Going forward, the future design of Local Nature Recovery and the approach to payment rates for planting trees will largely mirror those within the England Woodland Creation Offer – meaning there is no reason to delay tree planting, forestry chiefs say. 

Richard Stanford, the Forestry Commission’s chief executive, said:  “Farmers and land managers can now have the confidence to grow trees under EWCO, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to easily transition into the Local Nature Recovery scheme in the future, and without the worry that future schemes will be significantly different.

“Trees play an important role in providing shade and shelter for livestock, and reducing soil and nutrient loss.

“Given the recent hot, dry weather it’s vital our farmers and land managers plan for the future to build in resilience to climate change and take advantage of the woodland-creation incentives available today.”     

Head to gov.uk/guidance/england-woodland-creation-offer to find out more.