Small Woodland Owners' Group

Grants etc

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby Brown » Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:59 pm

Hi, I've recently bought 4.5 acres of wooded upland in Monmouthshire, Wales. It was originally part of a larger forest plantation but largely blown down in the'87 storm. It has regenerated with mainly Silver Birch but there is small but significant area of mature Corsican Pine that was not blown down in the original storm.

I have some ideas about how I want to develop the woodland and a fair idea of how to go about it. However, I feel that I would benefit from some expert advice and I consequently contacted the Forestry Commission for Wales. They advised me to get in touch with some private woodland management companies to discuss a possible management plan for the woodland. The Commission advised that the initial visit would be free but the subsequent plan would cost money. My understanding was that the Commission would re-imburse this cost as long as the plan met criterior in accordance with their 'Better Woodland for Wales' scheme.

Although I think a woodland management plan would be great, I don't know if it is worth going through the hassle of applying for grants etc for a woodland of such a small size. I wondered if anybody has any experience of having a woodland management plan and whether it was worth it. I would also like to know whether I'm allowed to implement the plan or whether the a Forestry Commission approved company would have to carry out the work.

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Postby Dennis » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:53 am

We have a grant for work on our coppice in Sussex. It's a similar size to your wood. We had to register ourselves with DEFRA (who are so focussed on agriculture and horticulture that they forget that their remit includes woodlands). Next we had to register our woodland - bit of a fiddle getting Land Registry maps - but achieved without specialist advice. Then it was on to the grant application - which another member of this Forum did for us (Thank you again!). How we get the grant-aided work done is up to us; use of contractors is assumed but not obligatory. the beauty of it is that grant approval sidesteps the requirement to get a felling licence.

Someone else must post to this thread to tell us whether the rules are identical in Wales

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Postby MartinD » Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:55 pm

I've had a look at the Welsh site, and it looks more complicated than the English system. Having said that, the main benefit to me has been having someone assuring me that I am doing the right thing. As Dennis has commented, the grant is given on a claim that the work has been done. Although the FC may come along and check, they don't check that contractors have done the work, or ask for invoices. I'm doing roughly half of the work myself, and getting contractors to do the rest. The grant for my work will make up the shortfall between grant and bills.

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Postby tracy » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:27 pm

Yes, it is really different in Wales and I am not sure entirely how it works - hopefully someone else in Wales will pipe up soon, otherwise I will do some finding out for you Brown! I think you can do the work yourself.... but let's see what others say


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Postby Twybill » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:19 pm

It's good to get advice from other people but it is only you who knows what you want the woodland for. Commercial or a cropping woodland would be entirely different in structure to one for pleasure and wildlife. May be better to keep away from all the paperwork and perhaps introduce some acorns. Grants for planting generally overstock with far too many trees and the process may take the pleasure out of owning a small wood and being creative.

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Postby tracy » Sun Dec 06, 2009 8:32 am

I hear that they only do and agree what the woodland owner wants, so I would hope that you would not be forced into anything like major forestry work. It is a good warning through Twbill.

I would suggest you get a FC officer to come and have a look and a chat and start there. You don't have to do what he says at the end, but you might be pleasantly surprised!

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Postby docsquid » Mon Dec 07, 2009 7:00 pm

Yes, definitely get in touch with the FC officer for your area. We have 11 acres, have had a few visits from the FC officer who has been extremely helpful and sympathetic to management for wildlife. We wrote our own Woodland Management Plan and have tacked on various other grants for certain work that needed to be done (such as fencing, paths and drainage), and this is ongoing. It doesn't cover all the costs but it does help. We sometimes pay contractors and other times do the work ourselves. I find the advice as helpful as the money sometimes!

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