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New horizons for West Midlands’ woodland cover

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Oak tree planting using vole and rabbit guards, Hicks Lodge

The Forestry Commission is offering a share of £3 million to farmers, land owners and managers who sign up to create much-needed woodland in the West Midlands.

For farmers, up to £8,300 per hectare is available from the Forestry Commission for tree planting in targeted areas that help meet three woodland creation priorities.  Up to 80 percent of the West Midlands could be eligible for a grant.

The priorities are -

  • restoring our ancient woodland landscapes using native species in new planting,
  • creating accessible woodland in and around our towns and cities, close to where people live, and
  • creating timber producing woodlands and forests in locations where they will combat the increasing effects of climate change, for example, protecting against flooding or providing fuel for energy.

Ewan Calcott, Grants and Regulations Manager for the Forestry Commission in the West Midlands, said:

“Our innovative system, called Woodland Opportunity Mapping, was developed with many partners as part of the West Midlands Forestry Framework. It looks at where trees could be planted or should be avoided by comparing landscape character, biodiversity, cultural heritage and accessibility. Using these characteristics, the woodland opportunities for significant woodland creation emerge, with a bit of negotiation.

“Woodlands are important across the West Midlands for a number of reasons. They provide habitat for numerous species of wildlife, and frame our landscapes; they contribute to people’s well being and quality of life by improving the quality and appearance of the places we live and work in, as well as providing opportunities for recreation and improving our health. Trees also absorb carbon, produce sustainable fuel and building materials that can all help to reduce society’s contribution to climate change.

“The terrible floods that hit the West Midlands in 2007 are a clear indication of how climate change is starting to affect our lives. The Reed Report (Nov 2009) identified how trees, woods and forests have a key role to play in protecting our environment and reducing the carbon footprint of Great Britain, and gave a clear indication that many more trees and woodlands are needed.

“The priority locations identified in the West Midlands are where new trees, woodland and forests will play a vital role in safeguarding our existing woodland landscapes, reversing declines in woodland biodiversity, protecting our cultural heritage, beginning to combat the effects of climate change, supporting rural economies and creating accessible woodland close to where people need it.

“The Forestry Commission is determined to increase the proportion of woodland cover in the West Midlands to address these issues, and by offering cash incentives we can encourage landowners to allocate land for tree planting, but only where the benefit of new woodland is delivered in the right place."

Landowners can already receive £1,800 per hectare as a standard grant for woodland creation, but now more money is available – up to £2,000 per hectare extra. The Forestry Commission will also pay farmers additional annual payments of up to £300 per hectare for a further 15 years for planting trees on agricultural land, and they keep their Single Farm Payment.

“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 achieve an increase in our region’s woodland cover.”



  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 Forestry Commission - West Midlands

  2. Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and regional delivery of the Government's forestry policy. EWGS is a part of the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE). Further information about these schemes can be found at

    Anyone interested in making an application should contact the Forestry Commission on 01905 532200 or email information can also be found at Forestry Commission - Grant priorities in the West Midlands or Forestry Commission - English Woodland Grant Scheme

  3. The Forestry Commission (FC) in the West Midlands (WM) supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC WM has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the forestry regulatory body; in helping the West Midlands to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the West Midlands natural heritage (especially ancient trees and woodlands) and enabling communities across the West Midlands to live healthier lives. For further information visit Forestry Commission - Grant priorities in the West Midlands

  4. Last year 328 hectares of new woodland was created in the West Midlands through Forestry Commission grants.

    Around £3 million in grants will be available over the next 3 years for creating woodland cover in the West Midlands – an area with some of the UK’s least wooded counties.

  5. Using Woodland Opportunity Mapping , which was developed in 2007 as part of the West Midlands Forestry Framework – Growing Our Future , the Forestry Commission has identified three priorities for woodland creation.

    Woodland cover looks set to increase significantly if the help these offered by these grants is used. In the West Midlands, woodland cover currently stands at 7.6 percent compared with the national average of 8.4 percent.

    This works out at around 18 hectares of woodland – or just under 18 football pitches – per 1,000 people in the West Midlands, below the national average of 22 hectares per 1,000 people.

    On a county level, Warwickshire has only 4.7 percent woodland cover , while the West Midlands conurbation lags significantly further back at just 3.1 percent woodland cover.

  6. Sources
    1. Woodland Opportunity Mapping
    2. West Midlands Forestry Framework
    3. National Woodland Inventory

    Bob Evans (Delivery and Outreach Manager) or Ewan Calcott (Grants and Regulations Manager) on 01905 532200 or 07815871142 for Bob or 07831 235213 for Ewan.