Woodland Grants and Funding in England

A renewed (2023) Countryside Stewardship (CS) grant scheme is available to woodland owners, with eligibility based on scoring.  From a woodland perspective, apart from the new focus on Ancient Semi Natural Woodland, SSSIs and other sensitive sites, there are key central objectives:

  • Habitat improvement for biodiversity
  • Resilience to climate change

  • Managing for priority species
  • Removing conifers and other non-native tree species from Ancient Woodland
  • Implementing Continuous Cover Forestry, where this will reduce the impact of clear felling on water quality in acid sensitive catchment areas


CS applications for a 5 year scheme can be submitted in an annual window.  Applications for ASNW or SSSIs are likely to be successful, but care must be taken not to over promise on the delivery of targets.  There is no point saying you can do more than you can.

Objectives may include management for resilience, deer control, ride creation or management, coppicing, thinning, regeneration felling, disease management etc.  It can take a long time to be ready for an application, depending on what you have in place already.  Steps may include registering the specific woodland parcels with the Rural Land Registry, which can take a long time.  Application for Planning Grant and then producing the plan can take a few months, depending on complexity, allowing for discussion, adjustments and statutory consultation.

Although the bureaucracy technical detail involved appears very off-putting, there is often a bottom line with woodland owners, who would like to know that their woodlands are being improved in the longer term, but cannot make the case to invest resources in them.  In some instances, timber sales may cover overall costs, but in others, grant funding has provided a critical incentive to resuming woodland management.  

Scoring to achieve woodland grants

To discover how any woodland area will score, a prime resource to refer to is the Forestry Commission’s Land Information Search.  This will show whether a piece of woodland will score high, medium or low for any of the above aims.  A lot of English woodland will have a high basic score simply by being woodland, as opposed to agriculture, recent plantation, etc.  

Types of grant

Capital based grants are available under the CS scheme for planting, protection, management planning, and improving access to the woodland, eg by putting in tracks.  Separate to this, annual woodland maintenance jobs come under the Multi Annual scheme, where successful applicants will receive £127 per hectare for a 5 year contract, for the work that owners have decided they would like to do.  Part of an application for Multi Annual funding can also include smaller capital items, such as deer fencing, gates, control of invasive species etc.  

Management plan

An approved management plan needs to be in place to access the funding (Planning Grant funding of a minimum of £1500 is available). Management plans that are nearly out of date can be upgraded, including completion of a Plan of Operations, where one does not already exist.  This means taking the extra mensuration data needed and calculating the expected volumes to extract. 

For more information go to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/countrysidestewardship

Contact the Forestry Office for help with management planning and ultimate Countryside Stewardship grant applications.