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The Forestry Commission is offering grants to landowners as part of a drive to boost the amount of woodland in the East Midlands.
Woodland cover in the region is 5.3 per cent, which is a long way behind the national average of 8.4 per cent and much lower than the European average of 32 per cent.
Forest chiefs now want to redress this balance by offering cash incentives to encourage landowners to allocate land for tree planting. Farmers can receive up to £3,800 per hectare for agricultural land, as well as receiving additional annual payments and their Single Farm Payment.
The push will see about £4 million made available to create and expand woodlands and improve their management. It will make a vital contribution to the region’s long term future and also play a part in helping the region curb and adapt to climate change – a key objective for the Forestry Commission which earlier this year launched a Woodland Carbon Task Force *
Neil Riddle, Grants, Regulation Manager for the Forestry Commission in the East Midlands, said:
“We are on a mission to increase the level of tree cover in the East Midlands, which is one of the lowest in the country. For centuries we have seen the continual removal of trees and only in this generation have we begun to replace them. Trees contribute to a healthy landscape, absorb carbon and so help to mitigate our contribution to climate change. They improve air quality by removing pollutants and contribute to our sense of well-being. Trees have many other benefits to us and to wildlife.”
Landowners can receive £1,800 per hectare as a standard grant for new native woodland creation. The Forestry Commission will also pay farmers additional grants for a further 15 years to keep livestock off the allocated land. Money is also available if the land is within target areas to support key priorities within the East Midlands. Improving the habitat for woodland birds could attract a further £2,000 per hectare in grant funding. Additional incentives are also available for landowners who provide public access in newly created woodland.
Neil Riddle added:
“Many landowners already help the wider environment by managing their woodlands and by working with us to create new woodland, but there may be others who have not considered this option. We would like anyone in the region who has land they would like to turn into woodland to contact us so we can work together to increase woodland cover.”
Last year 277 hectares of new woodland were created through Forestry Commission grants in the East Midlands. The closing date for applications for Woodland Creation Grants is September 30 this year.
Anyone interested in making an application should contact the Forestry Commission on 01623 821474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can also be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/eastmidlands or www.forestry.gov.uk/ewgs
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/eastmidlands
2. Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and regional delivery of forestry policy, as set out in the Strategy for England's Trees, Woods and Forests. EWGS is a part of the Defra funded Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). Further information about these schemes can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/rdpe/index.htm
3. The Forestry Commission (FC) East Midlands (EM) is regional arm of the Forestry Commission. It supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC EM region has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the region's forestry regulatory body; helping the region to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the region's forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the area’s natural heritage and enabling communities across the region to live healthier lives. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/eastmidlands
4. *The Woodland Carbon Task Force will make a key contribution to delivering Defra’s Climate Change plan. The plan takes forward the strategy set out in the Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan of July 2009, which highlighted the potential for new woodlands for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is estimated that 10,000 hectares of new planting per year in England over 15 years could remove 50 million tonnes of CO2 between now and 2050. If the wood produced was also used for construction and as biomass energy in place of fossil-fuels, a further 37 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england-wctf
David Bole (Development Officer) on 07712 750549
Neil Riddle (Grants and Regulations Manager) on 07768 704655
Richard Darn (Press Officer) on 0775 367 0038