In July, Wales’s Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, confirmed that Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW), the woodland grant scheme delivered by Forestry Commission Wales, will close with effect from 1 January 2011. Woodland grants will be integrated into Glastir, the Welsh Assembly Government’s new sustainable land management scheme from 1 January 2013.
So what does this change mean for existing BWW schemes and for woodland owners who may be planning to apply to BWW in the next few months?
Patrick Green, Forestry Commission Wales’s Operations Manager, explains, "As BWW contracts are for five years, we need to manage a planned closure of the scheme to avoid a significant spend beyond the end of the Rural Development Plan in 2013.
"As a result, new applications to BWW will not be accepted after 17 November 2010 and any existing or new applications will be given until 31 December 2010 to reach Foundation Plan approval stage.
"All BWW contracts must then be approved by 31 December 2011.
"After that date, Forestry Commission Wales will continue to manage BWW as a legacy scheme until approved contracts expire and staff will continue to issue felling licences."
Glastir is the Welsh Assemby Government’s new sustainable land management scheme for Wales. It replaces previous land management schemes including Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Mynydd and the Organic Farming Scheme/Organic Farming Conversion Scheme.
Patrick said, "The development of Glastir as a single integrated land use scheme should make it easier for all landowners to access grant support through a single application.
"Management grants will be accessible both to landowners who only have woodland and to farmers with woodland."
Before the new Glastir woodland grants are launched, Forestry Commission Wales will work with Welsh Assembly Government staff to ensure that information and training are given to the forest and woodland sector.
In the meantime, Forestry Commission Wales is developing Glastir woodland creation grants which will be available from autumn 2010. It will deliver these new grants on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government from Autumn 2010 until 1 January 2013 when they transfer to the Assembly Government.
Patrick added, "Our research showed that the majority of the BWW scheme funding has gone into existing woodland management, not into creating new woodlands or managing additional areas that have not historically been in any grant scheme.
"The development of the new Glastir woodland creation grants offers us a signficant opportunity to continue to deliver the Assembly Government’s Woodlands for Wales strategy."
Information on the new Glastir woodland creation grants will be available later this year on www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-5z8jcr
NOTES TO EDITORS
Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW)
The Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW) grant scheme is delivered by Forestry Commission Wales within which grants are based on a BWW management plan which is developed in stages.
The closure of the BWW scheme and the integration of woodland grants into Glastir is the result of a review carried out by Forestry Commission Wales into how woodland grants should be managed to ensure they deliver the Assembly Government’s Woodlands for Wales strategy.
All BWW applications (whether they are existing registered applications or new applications) will be given until 31 December 2010 to complete to Foundation Plan approval stage.
No new applications to BWW will be accepted after 17 November 2010.
All registered BWW applications must be approved by 31 December 2011.
From January 2012, Forestry Commission Wales will continue to manage BWW as a legacy scheme until approved contracts expire.
Glastir is the Welsh Assembly Government's new sustainable land management scheme for Wales. It replaces Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Mynydd and the Organic Farming Scheme/Organic Farming Conversion Scheme and now Better Woodlands for Wales.
Glastir has been designed to meet the challenges of climate change, water usage and soil, protection for valuable habitats and bio-diversity. The new scheme has two main elements – ‘all-Wales’ and ‘targeted’ in addition to a separate all-Wales ‘common land’ element. There is also an additional funding source for organic conversion and an Agricultural Carbon Reduction and Efficiency Scheme (ACRES) for energy efficiency improvements.
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, email@example.com, 0300 068 0057.