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A Forestry Commission scheme to plant tens of thousands of trees in new woodlands across the Isle of Wight is being re-introduced.
The last time the grant initiative was on offer between 2001 and 2006, the extra funding enabled new woodlands to be planted across the island equivalent to the size of 355 football pitches.
Now the Jigsaw Scheme is being brought back as an incentive to private landowners, in a bid to reconnect blocks of ancient woodland to allow wildlife to move more freely. Last time it was so successful that the island’s woodland cover was increased from 10 to 12 per cent.
Parkhurst Forest, which is managed by the Forestry Commission, is a stronghold for important species such as Red Squirrel, Barbastelle and Bechstein bats and the Pearl Bordered Fritillary Butterfly. Therefore, it is a key forest around which the Forestry Commission would like new planting.
Michael Pittock, Beat Forester for the Isle of Wight, said:
“Years ago urban development and agricultural removal of woodland left blocks of ancient forest scattered across the Island. These discrete blocks make it harder for rare species to migrate and survive extreme climatic conditions and other threats, so now we are putting parts of the jigsaw back together.”
The Forestry Commission is working closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to help landowners with applications and provide guidance on where, how and what to plant. The grants are available to landowners with a minimum of 0.25 hectares to plant. Those who can offer public access may be given priority.
Richard Grogan, from the Wildlife Trust, added:
“This is such fantastic news for the island. Extending woodlands provide a huge benefit to rare species, including red squirrels, dormice, long-eared owl, wood cricket, narrow-leaved lungwort and several species of bats. Not only this but it also provides a huge improvement in the quality of life for people on the Island, too.”
Helen Butler, of the Wight Squirrels project, commented:
“I am a big fan of the Jigsaw Scheme as it will allow red squirrels to reach and colonise otherwise isolated woodland.”
One of the largest applications for new woodland planting during the previous run of the Jigsaw Scheme was from the Briddlesford Estate, owned by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species. The Trust planted 9.7 hectares in a core area for the Red Squirrel, linking two separate parts of ancient woodland near Havenstreet.
In addition to the Jigsaw Scheme planting on private estates, the Forestry Commission will be planting over 6,000 new trees on the public estate at Parkhurst Forest next year as part of the forest design plan.
Michael Pittock, added:
“Over the long term we hope that the newly planted woodlands combined with the management of our existing forest will see the island’s wildlife increase, halting the decline of our rarest species and giving them security for decades to come.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Jigsaw scheme was launched in 2001 and ran for five years. The scheme was designed to contribute to the sustainable forest management, particularly to encourage the expansion and linkage of semi-natural woodland. The England Forestry Strategy recognised that many of the island’s semi-natural woods are fragmented and so their continued ecological viability is threatened.
In total about 210 hectares of new woods were created on ex-farmland sites over the five years that this scheme ran. The largest of the schemes was over 23 hectares and the smallest 0.3 hectares. The Forestry Commission contributed £819,000 of funding. In addition to this figure Defra will be adding further funds by supporting the removal of this area from agriculture. All this helps to bring employment to the island as well as many of these new woods are also opened for access by the local people and in some cases form new links between existing public rights of way. Over time these new woods will also become a significant part of the wooded landscape of the Island, replacing some of the woodland removed in the last century.
Under the newly launched Jigsaw scheme, a typical application could receive £1800 per hectare for planting native woodland, plus a further £2000 per hectare if it satisfies the requirements of the Jigsaw grant. On top of this planting payment, if the applicant is a farmer they can receive 15 annual payments for agreeing to maintain the area as woodland for 30 years.
2. The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/southeastengland.
The Forestry Commission 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.
Michael Pittock, Isle of Wight Area Manager, Forestry Commission
Tel: 07795666420 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org