Woodland Creation

Date published: 12 September, 2017

For recent changes to this guidance, please see the bottom of the page.

Aim

The aim of this category is to support the creation of new woodland that will bring economic, environmental and social benefits.

These benefits include:

  • meeting our target to increase woodland cover
  • helping mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration
  • restoration of 'lost' habitats through developing forest habitat networks
  • supporting a sustainable forest industry by providing a reliable timber supply
  • protecting soil and water
  • providing community benefits through public access
  • enhancing urban areas and improving landscapes
  • supporting rural development through local businesses and farm diversification

Grant support

The grant support for this category has nine woodland creation options.

There is an initial planting payment and an annual maintenance payment for five years. There are also a range of capital grants available for operations such as fencing and tree protection (see Table 3 – Capital grant operations for woodland creation).

The first annual maintenance payment associated with the Woodland Creation option will be available to claim in the calendar year following the year your contract is approved.

This is a regulatory requirement to ensure that the land is managed under this option for the entire year.

For example, if your application was approved in December 2016, then the first year of woodland creation maintenance can be 2017 and could be claimed on the 2017 Single Application Form.

But if your application was approved in February 2017, then the first year of woodland creation maintenance must be 2018, for claiming on the 2018 Single Application Form.

In the latter situation, the initial planting and supporting capital works can all be undertaken in 2017 claim year.

Initial planting and annual maintenance payment rates are shown below as a per hectare rate.

Click on the option to get more detailed information.

Woodland Creation option Payment rates in standard areas Payment rates in target areas
 Initial planting
payment rate (£/ha)
Annual maintenance payment rate
(£/ha/year) for
five years *
Total payment rate (£/ha)Initial planting
payment rate(£/ha)
Annual maintenance payment rate
(£/ha/year) for
five years *
Total payment rate (£/ha)
Conifer1920208296021602343330
Diverse Conifer2160336384024303784320
Broadleaves2880528552032405946210
Native Scots Pine1840272320020703063600
Native Upland Birch1840128248020701442790
Native Broadleaves1840272320020703063600
Native Low-density Broadleaves5609610406301081170
Small or Farm Woodland2400400440027004504950
Native Broadleaves in Northern and Western Isles36006246720n/an/an/a

Table 1 – Payment rates for woodland creation

* Public bodies are not eligible for 'maintenance' payments'.

Please note that local authorities are not classed as public bodies.

Farmland Premium payments are not included under the Scottish Rural Development Programme 2014–2020 Forestry Grant Scheme.

However from 2015, farmed land that is eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme and is afforested under the new Forestry Grant Scheme, will continue to be eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme.

Afforested land will be eligible for the duration of the woodland creation contract, which will normally be 20 years. In order to receive the Basic Payment you must have an eligible farming business and eligible land.

Full eligibility rules and how to apply for the Basic Payment Scheme

Target areas

Higher rates are available for the initial planting and annual maintenance payments in the target areas specified below.

1. Areas identified as being preferred or potential in the relevant Local Authority Woodland Strategy (or equivalent)

The higher payment rates will apply to the following woodland creation options:

  • Conifer
  • Diverse Conifer
  • Broadleaves

Please discuss with your local conservancy office to confirm that your application meets this requirement.

Refer to the Local Authority Woodland Strategies document in the Eligibility criteria section.

2. Areas identified by Cairngorms National Park Authority as a priority for woodland expansion

The proposed new woodland must be within the area identified by the Cairngorms National Park Authority as a priority for 'encouraging woodland network expansion'. Select the Forestry Grant Scheme 2014–2020 Target Areas folder on the Forestry Commission Scotland Map Viewer to see if you are eligible.

The higher payment rates will apply to the following woodland creation options:

  • Diverse Conifer (predominantly Scots pine)
  • Native Scots Pine
  • Native Upland Birch
  • Native Broadleaves
  • Native Low-density Broadleaves

The rate will be dependent on the extent to which the eligible option(s), detailed above, is within the priority woodland network expansion area.

For example, if 50 per cent or more of the eligible option(s) is within the woodland network expansion area then the whole option will receive the higher payment rate. If less than 50 per cent of the eligible option(s) is within the woodland expansion area then the higher payment rate will not be applied.

Please discuss with your local conservancy office to confirm that your application meets this requirement.

3. Woodlands for Water

The proposed new woodland must be within one of the target areas identified in the FCS-SEPA opportunity mapping projects as likely to provide multiple benefits for natural flood management and water quality, and be identified as 'Woodlands for Water' in the 'FGS (2014-20) Target Areas' folder on the Forestry Commission Scotland Map Viewer.

The higher payment rates will apply to the following woodland creation options:

  • Diverse Conifer
  • Broadleaves
  • Native Scots Pine
  • Native Upland Birch
  • Native Broadleaves
  • Native Low-density Broadleaves
  • Small or Farm Woodland

The woodland must be a type which helps to provide opportunities for both natural flood management and water quality. These benefits must be clearly identified in the Woodland Operational Plan.

The rate will be dependent on the extent to which the eligible option(s), detailed above, is within the Woodlands for Water target area.

For example, if 50 per cent or more of the eligible option(s) area is within the target area, then the whole eligible option(s) will receive the higher payment rate. If less than 50 per cent of the eligible option(s) area is within the target area then the higher payment rate will not be applied.

Please discuss with your local conservancy office to confirm that your application meets this requirement.

4. Native Woodland

The proposed new woodland must be within the area identified as 'Highland Native Woodland target area'. Select the Forestry Grant Scheme 2014-2020 Target Areas folder on the Forestry Commission Scotland Map Viewer to see if you are eligible.

The higher payment rate will apply to the following woodland creation options:

  • Native Scots Pine
  • Native Upland Birch
  • Native Broadleaves
  • Native Low-density Broadleaves

The rate will be dependent on the extent to which the eligible option(s), detailed above, is within the native woodland target area.

For example, if 50 per cent or more of the eligible option(s) is within the native woodland target area, the whole option will receive the higher payment rate. If less than 50 per cent of the eligible option(s) is within the native woodland target area, the higher payment rate will not be applied.

Please discuss with your local conservancy office to confirm that your application meets this requirement.

Please also note that within any of the target areas the capital items such as fences and gates will remain at the standard payment rates.

Sheep and Trees

Sheep and Trees is an initiative aimed at identifying and raising awareness of the many opportunities woodland can bring to farmers and land managers.

This initiative is not aimed at a target area but is available to upland livestock farmers where sheep are a major component and who will continue to farm. The new woodland must be between 10 hectares and 50 hectares of productive conifer woodland using the 'Conifer' or 'Diverse Conifer' options. This package is therefore limited to 50 hectares per application.

The Sheep and Trees grant package brings together two different elements of the Forestry Grant Scheme and so enables applications for both woodland creation and forest infrastructure. Planting woodland on eligible land will not impact the applicant's Basic Payments.

Applicants will also be able to graze the new woodland once the trees are mature enough to avoid browsing damage. For further details on this grant package speak to your local Conservancy office.

Eligibility criteria

Local woodland strategy

You must ensure that your woodland creation application fits well with the local authority woodland strategy (or equivalent). The document below contains links to all available Local Authority Woodland Strategies.

Suitability of tree species

Your chosen species must be either 'very suitable' or 'suitable' based on the approach outlined in Forestry Commission Bulletin 124 – An Ecological Site Classification for Forestry in Great Britain. For the Native Low-density Broadleaves option, marginal sites will also be considered.

A fundamental consideration when creating woodland is whether or not the tree species is appropriate to the site. You should carry out a site-based assessment of soil and vegetation to match species choice with the particular site.

For the native woodland options you must be able to demonstrate that the National Vegetation Classification woodland type is appropriate to the site. This will be determined by existing vegetation indicators (refer to Forestry Commission Bulletin 112: Creating New Native Woodlands – Rodwell and Patterson 1995), as well as climate conditions, soil moisture and soil nutrients.

The Forestry Commission's Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System helps guide forest managers and planners to select ecologically-suited species to sites.

Ecological Site Classification considers the following climatic and site conditions:

  • exposure
  • accumulated temperature
  • moisture deficit
  • continentality
  • soil moisture
  • soil nutrients

This helps to determine suitability of the chosen species to the site and categorises them as poor, marginal, suitable or very suitable.

Supporting evidence on the suitability of tree species is required in the Woodland Creation Operational Plan. This document is available in the Supporting information section.

Please note that Ecological Site Classification Decision Support System is a free service, but online registration is required before you can begin using it.

The assessment of the site should be proportionate to the size and sensitivity of the application. Your local conservancy office will advise you on the level of information required for your application.

We will not support planting on deep peats (defined as peat greater than 50 centimetres in depth).

In order to carry out an assessment of the site conditions you may wish to engage the services of a person, or organisation, with the necessary forestry knowledge and experience.

Deep peat

We will not support planting on deep peats (defined as peat greater than 50 centimetres in depth).

  • on sites where it is likely that deep peat may be present we expect an appropriate level of assessment to be carried out to identify its distribution on site
  • all areas of contiguous deep peat over 0.25 hectares should be mapped as unplantable land
  • areas smaller than 0.25 hectares (unmappable) should, where practicable, be identified on the ground and care should be taken when preparing the site to ensure these areas are not disturbed and remain unplanted – where these areas represent a small proportion of the planting area (up to 10 per cent), they can be included, within mapped planting areas. However such peat should not be planted and the stocking densities should be adjusted accordingly to meet the grant requirements
  • where the proportion of unmappable deep peat is over 10 per cent of the planting area this will need careful assessment and discussion with Forestry Commission Scotland to determine whether the site is suitable for planting or whether larger areas should be mapped as unplantable

Further information on how to deal with open ground is provided in the 'Designed Open Ground' guidance.

Woodland Creation Operational Plan

Your Woodland Creation Operational Plan should demonstrate that your application is based on good knowledge of the sensitivities and local issues, and is well-integrated with other land objectives so as to secure multiple benefits.

Please read the section on 'Discussing with your neighbours, local communities and consultees' below.

Your operational plan will also need to state the methods and techniques you will use to demonstrate delivery of good practice.

You must also provide a tabular breakdown of the woodland creation component areas

This should clearly outline the total area within the application scheme boundary, areas planted with trees, areas of mapped designed open ground and any areas of mapped 'other land' (unplantable), for which you will not receive grant. This must be completed for each woodland creation option being proposed on the site.

The Woodland Creation Operational Plan and Component Areas table are in the Supporting information section below.

Map

In addition to your online application you must also provide a map.

The map is an important part of your application and should accurately represent details such as the woodland creation species boundaries (sub-divided by claim year), the scale of the map and the Ordnance Survey grid reference.

Guidance on mapping for woodland creation can be found below. There are also example maps to assist you.

For more general guidance on where to get your map and copyright, see the General mapping guidance for the Forestry Grant Scheme page.

UK Forestry Standard

All applications will be assessed against the UK Forestry Standard and associated guidelines. To be eligible your proposal must comply with the UK Forestry Standard.

Where particular site sensitivities exist, such as archaeology, you may be required to carry out the relevant surveys. The standard payment rate includes a provision for this work. Please refer to the document below.

Discussing with your neighbours, local communities and consultees

We recommend that, at an early stage in the development of your project, you discuss your woodland
creation proposals with consultees and those neighbours who might be directly affected.

This early consultation should be proportionate to the scale and impact of your project.

Applicants may find using the Confor guidance note helpful when deciding who to approach.

We also strongly recommend that you record any contact you have with consultees together with the outcome of discussions, with consultees and neighbours in a log. This will help to keep track of the issues you have considered and whether the design of the forest is affected.

Where early stakeholder discussions are carried out this should reduce the chances of issues being raised later on that might delay the approval of a project.

The log of consultation issues and outcomes should also help EIA screening, where required, and can feed into your Woodland Creation Operational Plan.

Getting landlord's consent

If you are a tenant then a landlord's declaration must be provided with your application. The control of the land must extend for the duration of the proposed contract.

If you are a contractual licensee then the Contractual License must be provided with your application. The control of the land must extend for the duration of the proposed contract.

Please note that if you are a crofter you may have to notify the Crofting Commission of your application. Go to the Crofting Commission website for further details.

Supporting information

You must submit the following supporting documents with your application:

  • Woodland Creation Operational Plan
  • map(s) – for example, a species map
  • getting landlord's consent (if appropriate)
  • Woodland Creation Component Areas table
  • Central Scotland Green Network Contribution supporting statement (if appropriate)

Where we ask for further information for your application it will be proportionate to the sensitivity of the site.

Additional information

Contract requirements

You must maintain all the works associated with the woodland creation and approved in your contract for 20 years beyond the approval date of the contract.

You must carry out your initial planting to meet the minimum stocking density detailed within the specific option. The minimum stocking density should then be maintained until the trees are successfully established.

Successfully established means that the trees must be present to the minimum stocking densities specified, healthy and in a condition capable of continued growth given no further weeding but subject to normal ongoing maintenance operations. Normal maintenance includes protection from grazing by wild or domestic animals for a period of 20 years following the initial planting payment.

Environmental Impact Assessments

If your application area is above certain thresholds (see Forestry Commission Scotland Environmental Impact Assessment page) you must apply to your local conservancy office for an Environmental Impact Assessment screening opinion.

Forestry Commission Scotland will give a screening opinion, under the Forestry (Environment Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017, confirming whether or not your application requires their consent.

Where your woodland creation project requires an EIA screening you are advised to request this in advance of submitting your grant application. This will help to reduce the risk of delays when dealing with your grant application.

This is particularly important where your early engagement with consultees and neighbours highlights potential significant effects on the environment.

Consultation about your application

As part of the process of assessing your application, we may consult or notify local authorities and other statutory organisations about your woodland creation proposal.

We will take their views into account before considering approval. Where required we will give clear and consistent advice on any issues that need to be addressed and we will expect our consultees to do the same.

All applications containing new woodland creation areas that exceed two hectares are placed on a public register by the local conservancy office. Please note that the overall consultation period is 28 days and this includes the time the case is on the Forestry Commission Scotland public register.

Prior notification of forestry tracks

If your application includes the construction or alteration of forestry tracks, roads or foot paths (private ways), prior notification will be required.

You must apply to the local planning authority for a decision on whether prior approval is needed.

Compensatory planting required by planning consent

Woodland creation that is required as a specific condition in a planning consent, or compensatory planting associated with a development such as a wind farm, are not eligible for grant support.

However where a larger area is proposed to be planted than is required by the planning consent, a Forestry Commission Scotland woodland officer will assess the application on its individual merits.

Any additional area of woodland creation which does not have any specific conditions attached may be eligible for grant support. The additional area will also be considered under the Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017. Your local conservancy office will be able to advise you further.

Ineligible areas and owners

Woodland creation grants are not available for:

  • planting in existing woodlands (including grazed woodland)
  • Christmas tree growing
  • short rotation coppice
  • fast-growing trees planted for energy production (such as eucalyptus in short-rotation forestry situations)

Insurance of your land and woodland creation areas

We recommend you are insured against forest fires, natural disasters and catastrophic events. If the woodland creation area does not establish as a result of these types of events, then we may recover all grant funding received.

Large-scheme area threshold

For conifer, native Scots pine and the native broadleaves options, which can be delivered on a very large scale, the payment rates have been reduced to reflect economies of scale and ensure that we deliver value for money.

The threshold is 300 hectares per option, per application, and the reduced payment rates will apply to the area above the threshold (see Table 2 – Payment rates below).

Where there are multiple applications within the same Business Reference Number, that are proposed to be planted contiguously, then this will be treated as one application for the purposes of the large-scheme area threshold.

The reduced rate will only apply to the initial planting and annual maintenance payments. The payment rate for capital items, such as fences and gates, will not be reduced.

Woodland Creation option Payment rates in standard areas above 300 hectares Payment rates in target areas above 300 hectares
 Initial planting
payment rate (£/ha)
Annual maintenance payment rate (£/ha/year) for five years Total payment rate (£/ha)Initial planting
payment rate(£/ha)
Annual maintenance payment rate (£/ha/year) for five yearsTotal payment rate (£/ha)
Conifer1440156222016801822590
Native Scots Pine1380204240016102382800
Native Broadleaves1380204240016102382800

Table 2 – Payment rates for options above 300 hectares threshold

Central Scotland Green Network Contribution

The Central Scotland Green Network Contribution is a capital item that offers a capital payment in addition to the woodland creation initial planting payment.

This payment recognises the additional costs of establishment where your application supports the delivery of the relevant forest and woodland strategy. It can only be applied to certain woodland creation options.

Refer to the Central Scotland Green Network Contribution page for more details.

Central Scotland Green Network Contribution

Capital grant operations

In addition to the initial planting grant there is support for a number of operations which may be required to ensure the successful establishment of new woodland. These operations are detailed in the table below.

Capital item Payment rate
Central Scotland Green Network – Core Area Contribution£2500/ha
Central Scotland Green Network – Fringe Area Contribution£750/ha
Vegetatively propagated genetically-improved Sitka spruce£150/ha
Stock Fence£4.40/m
Deer Fence£6.80/m
Deer fence - high cost£9.90/m
Upgrading Stock to Deer Fence£3.28/m
Rabbit-proofing of Existing or New Stock or Deer Fence£1.60/m
Tree Shelter: 1.2 to 1.8 Metres *£2.00 each
Tree Shelter: 0.6 to 1.1 Metres *£1.16 each
Vole Guard£0.19 each
Enhancing or Modifying a Stock Fence
Black grouse and capercaillie core areas
£2.00/m
Enhancing or Modifying a Deer Fence – Low Cost
Black grouse and capercaillie core areas
£2.00/m
Enhancing or Modifying a Deer Fence – High Cost
Black grouse and capercaillie core areas
£4.48/m
Conversion of Deer Fence to Stock Fence
Black grouse and capercaillie core areas
£1.60/m
Gate for Stock Fence£136 each
Gate for Deer Fence£172 each
Badger Gate£64 each
Self-closing Gate for Non-vehicular Access£280 each
Building or Restoring Drystone or Flagstone Dykes£26.40/square metre
Bracken control supporting the mechanical or chemical removal of bracken for areas of significant contiguous bracken, agreed by the local conservancy.£225/ha
Gorse Removal£720/net hectare

Table 3 – Capital grant operations for woodland creation

* The presumption is that fencing will be the preferred method of protecting new woodland. However, tree shelters may be supported where they are a lower-cost option.

In all woodland creation cases, we will assess both the silvicultural appropriateness and the benefits to be delivered by the scheme to determine whether the proposed protection costs represent value for money. In cases where they do not, we will limit the grant contribution for protection and may request that you revise your proposals.

Where tree protection capital costs (i.e. fencing, gates, tree shelters) are exceptionally high and more than 150 per cent of the total capital cost for initial planting – please contact your local Forestry Commission Scotland conservancy office in advance before submitting your application. Applications with high protection costs, over 150 per cent of the total capital cost for the initial planting, may still be supported where additional or exceptional scheme benefits are clearly identified.

Scoring criteria

To ensure that we make the most cost effective use of funding available and to meet Scottish Government objectives, we will assess each application using scoring criteria.

The criteria will be written as appropriate to each Forestry Grant Scheme option; please refer to Scoring criteria and clearing process for details.

How to claim

There are two types of claims for woodland creation: Annual Maintenance and Standard Cost Capital Items. The Annual Maintenance payments will be paid for five years, if you are eligible, and you must claim annually for these on your Single Application Form. All the other woodland creation grants are Standard Cost Capital Items.

You must claim your capital items on the Forestry Grant Scheme manual Standard Costs Capital Items Claim Form but, please, only submit a claim once you have satisfactorily completed the work.

For more information on claims and related forms, see our guidance on claims and payments.

For initial planting payments, we require you to submit the following supporting documents with your claim:

  • a map showing the locations of all the tree species you have planted
  • a components table that will show that you have met the minimum eligibility criteria of the woodland creation option
  • if you have planted native trees, or if you have planted using vegetatively propagated genetically improved
    Sitka spruce, you must provide us with the required copy of the tree supplier's document when submitting your initial planting claim. As well as entering the quantity of trees and the Master Certificate Number on the supplier's document, you should also include, for native trees, the region of provenance that demonstrates that the trees are suitable for the site

Please also refer to the capital item's minimum specification guidance to find out if there are any further supporting documentation and maps you need to supply with your capital claim.

Separate claims can be made for individual lines within your Schedule of Works even if, at a claim level, the option eligibility requirement would not be met.

Option eligibility applies to whole applications, not individual claims. However, if the whole application is not delivered we will reclaim any paid grant if the eligibility of the application has been compromised.

We may inspect all the capital items you claim to ensure that you have carried out the work to the correct specification.

Rules for payments of Maintenance annual grant

Maintenance Payment - You must have completed the planting for which you are claiming maintenance payments and submitted your initial planting capital claim by 30th June of the claim year specified in your Schedule of Works. If you cannot complete the planting by 30th June then you should request a variation to change the start year for maintenance payments to the following year.

For example: If you complete your SAF by 15th May 2017 to claim your woodland creation annual maintenance with the first claim year of 2017, you must do this only with the proviso that you CAN complete the initial planting work and submit your planting capital claim by 30th June 2017, otherwise you will not be paid for the maintenance in 2017.

Further information and technical guidance

Recent changes

Section Change
Capital Grant OperationsLink added to new Gorge Removal page

Previous versions

Download guidance

Click 'Download this page' to create a printable version of this guidance you can save or print out.