Written evidence submitted by A1 (TPW0070)

Tree Planting and Woodlands - Call for Evidence – Question 4

Why were previous ambitions for increasing tree planting in England not met and what lessons should be learned?

I am a novice landowner and woodland creator –

Project start: 2016; Size of project: 13 Hectares; Location: Northern valley side, former sheep pasture;

Purpose: Climate Change mitigation, Biodiversity, Public Amenity, Timber Production

Funding help from

  1. Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation scheme (EU Rural Development Fund)
  2. Basic Payments Scheme (EU Common Agricultural Policy)


Creating a woodland is costly and challenging. It is no surprise that farmers are reluctant to commit much land for tree planting. Keeping sheep looks to be a much easier occupation.

The costs include

(1)    A significant drop in land value when converting even poor-quality pastureland to woodland

(2)    Contractor base is poor quality and as a consequence remedial costs are incurred to rectify errors which don’t come to light until much later

(3)    Repairing drystone walls to keep out livestock (@ £70 per metre). No grant available.

The challenges include

(1)    Volume of documentation needed to be read to obtain a grant (189 total pages for Countryside Stewardship, 188 total pages for Basic Payments, 232 pages for UK Forestry Standard) and form filling (17 pages for Woodland Creation)

(2)    Voluminous bureaucracy; dealing with copious delays in the application/claim process

(3)    Having to deal with so many different people in many different offices – Forestry Commission/Natural England/Rural Payments/Countryside Stewardship Delivery Services)

(4)    Trying to locate suitable personnel who are available to do the work

(5)    Tending to each tree on a regular basis (I was advised by a farmer with decades of experience producing trees on his mixed farm that on average each tree requires 5 minutes work per year until felled)

(6)    Coping with the failure of plants due to extreme weather events (several named storms, tornado, prolonged drought in 3 out of 4 years, late frost)

(7)    Tackling pests (damage from voles, grey squirrels and sawfly caterpillars sufficient to kill the plants, damage from deer that stunt woody shrubs/holly grown in short wide shelters)

Suggested Solutions

1)      Simplify and speed up the bureaucracy. (Speedy responses from bureaucrats can be crucial for a successful project because land management is seasonal – if a window is missed it may be necessary to wait a year)

2)      Better training for Forestry Commission Woodland Officers – better pay to attract higher calibre people

3)      Immediate introduction of scheme to drastically reduce grey squirrels and deer

4)      To address the abysmal quality of tree planters, introduce a

i)                     Basic Tree Planting certificate (1-2 days instruction)

ii)                   Advanced Tree Planting certificate (3-5 days instruction) for team leaders

5)      Greatly improve the Woodland Creation Maintenance grant. (The current scheme emphasises planting and penalises those who plant at high density since the maintenance payment is per Hectare not per tree even though every tree is required [very unrealistically] to be alive at the end of the period. Note that the Welsh scheme pays significantly more and the Maintenance element is automatic.)

6)      Improve the information available in England. See: -

i)                     Tree planting guide for Glastir Woodland Creation available at the foot of this webpage: https://naturalresourceswales.gov.uk/guidance-and-advice/environmental-topics/woodland-management/new-woodland-creation/support-available-for-new-woodland-creation/?lang=en

ii)                   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysomBHDBqug&list=PL8DdHOvRK_JlB7ECDOlQusoMjYWxmVUIM&index=3



December 2020