A woodland in fall
A woodland in fall

England woodland creation offer

The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) grant scheme was launched in summer 2021 for landowners and farmers. It supports the creation of a range of woodland types and sizes

The updates announced for 2024 have improved the payment rates by around 45%, which the government hopes will increase uptake.

The grant can cover 100 per cent of eligible standard capital costs of woodland creation, including buying and planting the trees, and then maintaining them for 15 years. Farmers and landowners can now receive up to £11,600 per hectare of new woodland planting for the public benefits they create. As a shoot, it is well worth discussing the attractiveness of the updated EWCO scheme with your landowner.

The relationship between shooting and woodland creation

We know from peer reviewed evidence that having pheasant shooting on land is a driver for improved levels of woodland management and planting, compared to when there is no pheasant shooting.  

BASC has estimated the corresponding carbon benefits that come from game shooting’s impact on woodland extent and condition at £123 million pounds in England alone. This is a key public benefit. See our page on the Natural Capital Benefits of Shooting for information.

The Forestry Commission understands that game shooting is a driver for woodland creation and actively promote woodland planting for game shooting, alongside forest schools and glamping, as seen in their promotional video.

What can I earn?

For the 2024 EWCO scheme’s 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.

What does it mean for shooting?

  • The creation of new woodland will mean the need for effective deer management will increase. Not only could this provide new opportunities for stalkers, but commodities such as deer fencing and high seats are eligible for government funding. Likewise, woodland maintenance payments are available to protect/establish the planted trees. This could go towards paying a deer manager.
  • The same can be said of grey squirrel control, providing increased opportunities for shooters.
  • The creation of woodlands could boost game shooting prospects. New woodlands could mean new/improved drives, and potentially replacing previous cover crops with woodland plantations will be equally as effective and more profitable.
  • Additional funding is available where the woodland being created will benefit certain priority species. Many shoots are already home to such species due to effective habitat and predator control, so this could be an added incentive.
  • Planting of broadleaves along riverbanks is a desirable part of the grant scheme. The establishment of such trees could provide increased nesting opportunities and boost UK species.
  • A grant covers entire cost and all financial aspects of the process.
  • Future sale of woodland carbon credits could provide a source of additional income.

Applications are open all year round. Find out more about the EWCO scheme here.