Support towards important tree planting

Peter Keenan, Woodlands Officer with the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), on a scheme that encourages landowners to plant trees.

Peter Keenan, Woodlands Officer with the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), on a scheme that encourages landowners to plant trees:

At a time when we all should be concerned about climate change and doing our bit to lower carbon emissions, the benefits of trees should be celebrated, as they are one of the most effective current solutions to capture and absorb excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

This form of climate mitigation will help us to limit our global warming to the 1.5C target set as part of the COP21 Paris Agreement in 2015.

Planting trees in appropriate areas can assist the environment in many ways, such as helping to maintain soil nutrients, improve water quality, stabilising river banks, reducing the risk of flooding, acting as haven for wildlife, providing wildlife corridors and offering shelter from wind and exposure and so forth.

These benefits are called ecosystem services.

Within the wider landscape, there’s obviously the aesthetic value woodland can provide which can be improved and enhanced through the use of additional tree planting, varied species composition and sympathetic design, and which can contribute to the public’s health and wellbeing.

If you have some land and you want to make a contribution to the Island’s fight against the climate and biodiversity emergencies, planting trees may prove to be the perfect solution. It’s something which is worthy of the effort and its impact can ultimately be far reaching.

As an incentive and to encourage and promote additional tree cover Island-wide, Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s (DEFA) Forestry department has recently implemented a Woodland Grant Scheme.

This scheme provides landowners with financial assistance for the creation of new woodland.

Grant support will include an initial payment and an annual payment for five years and an eligible applicant could receive up to £4,880 per hectare (Ha) of support depending on the amount of area planted.

The size of the area available for planting under the scheme can vary from 0.2Ha (0.49 acres) to 10 Ha (24.7acres) although any area over and above 0.5Ha will be subject to approval from the planning authority.

Tree planting isn’t always appropriate, and there are some areas where it should be avoided, such as on areas of peat, where the planting of trees could actually lead to carbon emissions, or in areas where sensitive species, such as curlew, are present and could be negatively impacted.

Tree planting has to be done sensitively, in co-ordination with wider environmental considerations. Sometimes it is the best thing for the planet and for wildlife to leave land alone or instead look to create different habitats, such as wetlands, which also provide a great variety of ecosystem services, including much valued homes for wildlife.

Because of this, the Forestry team works in close collaboration with DEFA’s Ecosystem Policy Team to ensure that grant applications for woodland creation are scrutinised carefully, and support is only given where suitable. 

There are three types of grant support available under the DEFA scheme:

Broadleaved native woodland

This option is to provide a diverse species and structured broadleaved woodland. There can be no more than 75% for a single species and up to 20% may be woody shrubs. If the site is exposed and it may be deemed beneficial to the establishment of the broadleaves, 10% confer will be permitted in the planting species mix.

Native woodland

This includes trees native to the Isle of Man.

Native low-density woodland

The aim is to create native woodland pasture or scrub habitats using wide spacing with up to 20% native woody shrubs.

To enable tree establishment, forward planning is advised and, in many cases, essential groundwork must be undertaken prior to any tree planting being done.

This can include things such as the control of grass and other vegetation, fencing and the use of tree shelters as protection against rabbit damage, all of which will receive some grant assistance within the Woodland Grant Scheme.

Tree planting should be carried out when trees are dormant, which can be anytime from mid-November to the end of March, depending on site and weather conditions, so, with weather in the Isle of Man improving, now is a good time to assess land and consider planning for the 2023/2024 planting season and submitting an application.

For further information, email or ring 01624 695701.

Posted up on 26th March 2023


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