Successful Forestry Innovation Fund to re-open

24 August 2016

The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF) has welcomed the news that the Forestry Innovation Fund will re-open to applications next month.

Forestry Commission England has confirmed in a letter to Confor that further bids for the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, available through the fund, can be made from 5th September.

Chris Davies MP, Chair of the APPGF, had called for the fund to be re-opened quickly after the All-Party Group's meeting in July. He said today: "It was clear from listening to Confor and its members that the fund had done an important job in de-risking the early application process for creating new woodland - and the number of schemes put forward showed the potential demand out there.

"I am delighted the fund will now re-open and I am certain that we will see many more good-quality applications. It is vital that innovative approaches to funding like this are available to the forestry sector and I look forward to the industry responding in a positive way once more."

When the fund first opened in December, an initial tranche of up to £200,000 to fund WCPG bids saw ten planting schemes totalling in excess of 1000 hectares put forward. At the time, Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, said the funding was "strongly welcomed by the sector as an important and cost-effective tool to support the growth of forestry in the English regions".

Mr Goodall said today: "This is very welcome news and we are very grateful to our APPGFChair Chris Davies for his energetic efforts in helping to make this happen. 

"The schemes coming forward thanks to this fund can make a real difference to the amount of planting in England and lift it from its current historic low - and in doing that, stimulate rural employment and help with climate change targets.

"Partnership is vital to make this scheme work successfully and Confor looks forward to working closely with the commercial sector, UK Government and Forestry Commission England to bring more planting schemes forward.”

Richard Greenhous, Director of Forest Services at Forestry Commission England, said: “We are reopening this important grant as part of the Government’s  commitment to plant 11 million trees this Parliament, and to tackle barriers to private investment in commercial woodland creation in particular. 

"Supporting high quality woodland design to maximise economic, social and environmental benefit can only help increase the confidence of the forestry sector to invest in new woodlands. I would encourage landowners to consider establishing new woodlands to diversify their business interests and apply for a grant to start the ball rolling.”

In the letter to Mr Goodall, FCE suggests that over time, the Forestry Innovation Fund might be widened [beyond the WCPG] to support other activities to stimulate innovation in forestry.

Mr Goodall said: "I'm very heartened that Forestry Commission England is already thinking about the next phase of this important project."

Information on the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, including the application form will be available on the Forestry Commission’s website from 5th September 2016.