New planting and restocking
New planting is the creation of new areas of woodland by planting trees on land that was not previously woodland. The statistics presented here also include new woodland that is created by natural colonisation of trees on land near existing woodland. Statistics on new planting are used to inform government policy and resource allocation, and are used in producing annual estimates of woodland area.
There are a number of factors that can affect the level of new planting in the UK. These include:
- choices by landowners reflecting their own motivation and needs;
- the costs and availability of land for conversion to woodland;
- the availability of grants for new planting, the level of grant payments available and the awareness of grants among potential recipients;
- the tax benefits available from owning woodland;
- expected future markets for wood products such as timber and woodfuel;
- income from payments for ecosystem services, particularly carbon storage;
- national and local initiatives, for example on biodiversity, green infrastructure and water management.
Restocking is the replacement of trees on areas of woodland that have been felled; this can be done either through replanting or natural regeneration. The statistics presented here include felled areas that have been restocked by both natural regeneration and replanting.
As restocking takes place on woodland that has been previously harvested and it is a condition of most felling licences that the area is restocked, restocking rates are mainly driven by harvesting levels (with a time lag, usually of around 2 years, between harvesting and restocking). Figures for timber harvesting (wood production) are available in the UK-Grown Timber chapter.
Economic factors, including grant rates, may have some effect on the species choice at restocking. In addition, the precise timing of restocking may be affected by weather conditions.
Grant support for restocking of conifers has changed with the introduction of Rural Development Contracts in Scotland in 2008. As a result, grant aid was no longer available for restocking with Sitka spruce in many cases. No estimate has been included for restocking of Sitka spruce in Scotland that is no longer supported by grants. It is therefore likely that conifer restocking in Scotland in recent years is under-reported in this release and other statistics. A new Forestry Grant Scheme was launched in Scotland in March 2015.
Grant support in England is now provided by the Countryside Stewardship scheme, which opened for applications in early 2016. No funding is provided for restocking under Countryside Stewardship. No estimate has been made for restocking in England that is no longer supported by grants and it is therefore likely that restocking in England is under-reported in this release.