BASC is advising shoot managers to consider making applications for grants from a £13 million fund the government hopes will increase England’s woodland.
Forestry Minister Thérèse Coffey wants landowners to plant more trees to protect wildlife, boost the timber sector and reduce flood risk.
Farmers, foresters and land managers will be able to apply for up to £6,800 per hectare to plant, weed and protect more trees when application forms for the next round of the government’s Woodland Creation grant are made available in September.
The fund – part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme – is expected to help plant more than three million trees, creating 1,900 hectares of new woodland and contributing to the government’s ambition to plant 11 million trees, with a further one million in towns and cities.
Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity projects, said: “Land is managed for shooting over two thirds of the UK’s rural landscape and some 48,000 hectares of land in the UK are estimated to have new trees planted on them for shooting each year.*
“Furthermore, shooting provides the incentive to manage and develop these woodlands in the long term, long after funding schemes have come to an end.
“We note that the government wants to see as many applications as possible to evidence its commitment to the forestry sector and to biodiversity, which afforestation delivers.
“Applications which include shooting can really increase the efficacy of the funds for biodiversity and forestry outcomes through pest management and good woodland management. We recommend shoots to liaise with their landowners about the opportunities.”
Robin Marshall-Ball, a BASC council member and conservation specialist, said: “We attested in the recent EFRA Forestry in England inquiry that shooting provides a key driver for the creation and management of woodlands, so we are delighted at the announcement of funds.”
Guidance and application forms will be available in September, with the application window opening in January 2018.