Payment rates increased to benefit farmers through planting trees

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  • Both farmers and land managers can now get up to £11,600 per hectare for the public benefits delivered by planting trees and the woodlands they create, which is a 45% increase.


  • Uplift will help farmers and land managers to plant more trees while supporting food production on our best and most versatile land

payment rates increased to benefit farmers planting treesDefra and the Forestry Commission have announced a significant uplift in England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) payments in what is the latest step to increase tree planting across the country. 


The increase in EWCO payment rates will take effect immediately and offer farmers and land managers more tailored tree-planting incentives to encourage woodland creation where it is best suited, whilst also protecting our most productive farmland for food production. 


This is a key part of the Government’s plans to achieve net zero by 2050 and put nature at the forefront of its efforts to tackle climate change. The current maximum rate per hectare available from additional contributions will increase from £8,000 to £11,600 – a 45% increase. That will increase to £12,700 in stackable payments if the land is also eligible for the new Low Sensitivity Land Payment. Standard cost payments will remain at up to £10,200 per hectare.


As part of the enhanced package, key new measures include: 


  • A new payment to encourage EWCO applications on low-sensitivity land has been introduced, avoiding land most suitable for food production. When planting on low-sensitivity land you can now receive £1,100 per hectare.
  • A new ‘Nature Recovery – Premium’ payment option (£3,300 per hectare) has been added to the Nature Recovery Additional Contribution. This is designed to encourage the planting or natural colonisation of highly biodiverse woodlands next to ancient woodland.  
  • Uplifts have also been made to some of the other existing additional contributions, with a focus on riparian buffers, flood mitigation and access. For example; payments for flood risk management have doubled from £500 to £1,000 per hectare, and recreational access has increased from £2,200 to £3,700. 
  • Annual maintenance payments have been raised from £350 to £400 per hectare, per year, for 15 years – recognising that caring for new trees is vital if new woodlands are to flourish.


Forestry Commission Chief Executive Richard Stanford said:

farmers planting trees

“There has never been a better time for farmers and land managers to plant and grow more trees, and today’s announcements make it clear that woodland creation is a compelling part of the business of land management. I encourage everyone eligible to take advantage of the generous woodland creation incentives now available.


“In addition to encouraging woodland creation away from most productive land, it is important to remember that trees and woodlands can support farming objectives – for instance providing shade and shelter, improving productivity through healthy soil and water, reducing erosion and nutrient loss from surface run-off, or improving drought and flood resilience.”


Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: 


“We have made our commitment to farmers and land managers taking part in the England Woodland Creation Offer clear – we will support you, invest in you and reward your action in helping to meet our ambitious targets for the environment and the climate. 


“Today’s uplift to rates is the latest step. It pays to be part of the England Woodland Creation Offer. Food security is a government priority, and we will continue to support our farmers and land managers to improve and conserve the natural environment and plant more trees, whilst making sure our best agricultural land is kept for food production." 


This announcement follows the launch of the new Woodland Creation Fast Track, which will see the Forestry Commission process EWCO applications with at least 90% of land located on low-sensitivity land, within 12 weeks (60 working days) – as long as the application is complete, UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant, and provides the correct information from the outset. 


This approach to uplifting EWCO payment rates continues delivering on the Government’s pledge that no one will be unfairly disadvantaged if they start planting now, rather than waiting for future government schemes.


The Government has stretching and challenging targets to increase tree canopy and woodland cover in England and continues to take action to meet our tree planting commitments and more than 15 million trees have been planted this parliament. The government continues to work at pace to boost the forestry sector for the long term by funding new technologies, creating new jobs by training the next generation of foresters and funding nurseries to boost the supply of healthy seeds and trees.


EWCO can help farmers and land managers to diversify whilst preserving their most productive land for agriculture. Food security continues to be a government priority on England’s 9.3 million hectares of farmland.


More information on the EWCO payment uplifts can be found here:

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