England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO)

EWCO supports the establishment of new woodlands and is administered by the Forestry Commission (FC). It is funded by the Exchequer through the Nature for Climate Fund, to support projects that will help us achieve Net Zero by 2050, as well as helping nature recovery and delivering other objectives in the 25 Year Environment Plan. Landowners, land managers and public bodies can apply to the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) for support to create new woodland, including through natural colonisation, on areas as small as one hectare. You could receive up to £10,200 per hectare, plus up to a further £8,000 in Additional Contributions for public benefits, to support your woodland creation scheme.

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Contents

Summary

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs - Forestry Commission - Nature for Climate Fund 

The England Woodland Creation Offer, or EWCO for short, is a financial incentive scheme for the planting and maintenance of new and extended areas of woodland across England. Our goal is to provide public benefits, contribute to our 2050 Net Zero target and to create new robust habitat for native flora and fauna in the face of contemporary environmental challenges and threats to biodiversity. Once an agreement is reached following the application process, recipients will be paid for completed tree planting, installation of additional features and infrastructure and yearly maintenance over the following decade.There are four types of payment available under EWCO:

  • support for the capital items and activities to establish new woodland, with payments covering 100% of standard costs (the national average)

  • ten years of annual Maintenance Payments to help establish the young trees once the capital works are complete

  • a contribution towards the actual cost of installing infrastructure to either enable the current and future management of the woodland, or to provide recreational access

  • optional Additional Contributions where the location of the woodland and its design will deliver public benefits. You can apply for multiple Additional Contributions on the same land where the woodland is in the right location and the design will provide multiple public benefits

Additional Contributions

Additional Contributions are optional and will be available where the woodland’s location and design will deliver public benefits. These are one-off payments that can be claimed once all the capital works are completed. Where appropriate, Additional Contributions can be combined so you can apply for multiple on the same land. Additional Contributions include:

  • Nature Recovery – up to £2,800 per hectare for woodlands that restore nature and species

  • Flood Risk – £500 per hectare for woodlands that help reduce the risk of flooding

  • Water Quality - £400 per hectare for woodlands that will improve water quality

  • Riparian Buffers - £1,600 per hectare for woodlands along riverbanks that improve water habitat

  • Close to settlements – up to £500 per hectare for creating woodlands close to where people live

  • Recreational Access – up to £2,200 per hectare for providing access to woodlands for the public to enjoy

You can check the location of your proposed new woodland in relation to where woodland creation can deliver the benefits that justify Additional Contributions on the Forestry Commission map browser and Land Information Search.

Implementing the Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot

The pilot of our biosecure procurement requirement means that applicants eligible for funding under the EWCO and the Future Farming Tree Health Pilot, need to source their trees from suppliers who are either certified under the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme (or have applied to become certified) or who have passed a Ready to Plant assessment provided by Fera Science Ltd. This requirement helps to combat the threats posed by pests and diseases, as well as strengthening our biosecurity and serving our long-term vision for our trees and woodlands.

Contact your Woodland Creation Officer

If you are considering making an application to EWCO, we recommend that you contact your local Woodland Creation Officer (WCO) as early as possible. They can provide guidance and answer any initial questions about woodland creation. WCOs can also provide further assistance if you choose to apply for a Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) to develop plans for your new woodland.

Extra income from selling carbon

The EWCO Application Form (Part B) gathers together the information you need to register with the Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) if you want to access private funding for ‘Woodland Carbon Units’ and apply to the Woodland Carbon Guarantee (WCaG). The WCC is the quality assurance standard for woodland creation projects in the UK and generates independently verified Woodland Carbon Units. From 1 July 2020, projects must be registered with the WCC before they are planted. The WCaG offers successful auction bidders the opportunity to access guaranteed government payments for Woodland Carbon Units captured by your project at an agreed price.

England Woodland Creation Offer transition into Countryside Stewardship

EWCO will become part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme – one of the new environmental land management (ELM) schemes – from 2025. The future design of Countryside Stewardship scheme and the approach to payment rates for planting trees will largely mirror those within EWCO – meaning there is no reason to delay tree planting. We expect existing EWCO agreement holders will have the opportunity to transition their maintenance payments into the Countryside Stewardship scheme from 2026. This continues the government’s pledge that no one will be made worse off if they start planting now, rather than waiting for future government schemes.

Eligibility

EWCO is open to owner occupiers, tenants, landlords and licensors who have full management control of the land in the application (if you don’t have full management control you will need consent from those who do). Joint applications, multiple land managers and applications on common land and areas of shared grazing are eligible. Land is eligible if it is:

  • in England

  • within the full management control of the applicant (or, where applicable, any counter-signatories)

  • not already classified as woodland

  • not subject to any existing legal requirement or obligation to create woodland

  • not subject to a dispute between landlords and tenants

  • not within an existing grant agreement that has more than 5 months left to run at the time the EWCO application is submitted (if the land or part of it is in either an Environmental Stewardship or Countryside Stewardship agreement it may be possible to transfer the land into EWCO as long as certain conditions are met)

EWCO is a criteria-based competitive scheme. We will offer Agreements to applicants with woodland creation proposals whose scores meet or exceed a threshold score. The threshold score is currently ten points. For full eligibility criteria, see the EWCO grant manual.

Woodland Creation Fast Track

If your proposal is within a low sensitivity area for woodland creation your application may be eligible for the Woodland Creation Fast Track. Check this before submitting your application.

Objectives

The main priorities for EWCO are:

  • combating climate change by creating new woodlands that store carbon

  • contributing to nature recovery by creating new woodland habitat

  • improving water quality

  • reducing flood risk

  • providing climate change mitigation by cooling watercourses

  • creating woodlands that are close to people

  • increasing and improving recreational access in new woodland

  • encouraging ammonia capture to protect sensitive sites

EWCO will support woodland creation until financial year 2024 to 2025. It aims to support the creation of 11,000 hectares of new woodland by financial year 2024 to 2025. EWCO will lead into our future environmental schemes from 2024. The Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery Schemes will provide support for publicly funded woodland creation, as set out in the government’s Agricultural Transition Plan.

Dates

The Forestry Commission aims to acknowledge your application and let you know if there is information missing from it within three working days. It may take longer during peak periods. Funding decisions take a minimum 12 weeks from receiving a valid application. This period includes a 28 day period where new planting proposals must be shared published on our public register of woodland creation and tree felling. Timescales are likely to be shorter where applicants have already completed an approved Woodland Creation Design Plan through the Woodland Creation Planning Grant. EWCO will support woodland creation until financial year 2024 to 2025. EWCO also includes 15 years of annual Maintenance Payments to help establish the young trees once the capital works are complete. Grant Recipients must maintain the young woodland for a total of 15 years after the last capital works are complete.

How to apply

What information do I need to apply?

Customer and Land Registration

You must be registered on Rural Payments and have a Single Business Identifier (SBI) before you can apply to EWCO. Please note you do not need to be a business to register. If you want to direct your EWCO payments to an authorised agent, they must also be registered on Rural Payments. You must have registered your land on Rural Payments before we can offer you an Agreement. We advise applicants to register their land before making an application.

Application Forms

Make an application using the guidance on our forms page. Always check this page to make sure you are working to the latest guidance and application forms.

Map

You will also need to submit a map showing the location of the proposed woodland and the capital items that will be undertaken. You can use your own map as long as it meets the standards in the Grant Manual or you can use a base map requested through the Forestry Commission’s Map Request Service. If you use this service, the Forestry Commission will supply a blank base map for you to mark up by hand to show your proposal. Please take a look at our EWCO example map to help you in preparing a map that meets our minimum mapping standards.

Where to send your completed forms

Please send your completed forms by email to: EWCO@forestrycommission.gov.uk Hard copies should be sent to: England Woodland Creation Offer - EWCO Forestry Commission National Office, 620 Bristol Business Park, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1EJ