Trees, woodlands and forestry - HS2 Woodland Fund

The HS2 Woodland Fund re-opened on Tuesday 30 May 2023 for applications supporting projects that create and restore woodland along the High Speed Two (HS2) Phase One route. £3.25m is available to support woodland creation and the restoration of plantations of ancient woodland sites (PAWS). First launched in November 2017 and managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of HS2 Ltd, the fund is available for sites located up to 25 miles from phase one of the route from London to the West Midlands. The Woodland Creation aspect of the fund will now be available under the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO).

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Contents

Summary

Woodland Creation

From 2023, HS2 funding for woodland creation will be delivered via the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO).

The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) was opened in June 2021. For more information on EWCO click here.

Applications to EWCO within the 25-mile zone of Phase One of the HS2 route will be identified and administered by the Forestry Commission; those applications that are planting native woodland will be earmarked to receive funding from HS2 Ltd. HS2 Ltd will cover the costs of all capital items for tree planting and maintenance works, whilst EWCO will fund any additional contributions such as payments for nature recovery, riparian buffering and flood risk reduction. Applicants will be notified through their EWCO agreement offer and will have the option to opt out of receiving funding from HS2 Ltd if desired.

Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS)

The HS2 Woodland Fund continues to accept applications for PAWs restoration applications. The fund is open year round, but PAWs applications are assessed four times per year. 

The highest scoring PAWs applications in each quarter will be provisionally allocated funding and assigned a Forestry Commission Woodland Officer.

Expressions of Interest are no longer being accepted.

Eligibility

Your existing PAWS woodland or proposed native woodland must be within 25 miles of the HS2 Phase One line from London to the West Midlands.You must:

• have full management control or consent to use the land for the lifetime of your agreement; and

• have no existing land management grant schemes (such as Countryside Stewardship or Environmental Stewardship) on the land.

For PAWS restoration funding your PAWS woodland must be at least 0.5ha in size.

For native woodland creation, your proposed woodland must be at least 1ha in size. Land owned by local authorities is not eligible for maintenance payments.

Objectives

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited is the company responsible for developing and constructing the UK’s new high speed rail network. It has started construction work on Phase One of the railway, from London to the West Midlands, including a major ecology programme. Phase One will be completed by 2026, accompanied by a ‘green corridor’ of connected wildlife habitats running alongside the railway. To support HS2’s ecology programme, the HS2 Woodland Fund is a £5 million grant scheme aimed at helping landowners to restore Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) and create new native woodland, at 100% of standard costs. The HS2 Woodland Fund provides capital funding to restore PAWS sites, at 100% of the standard costs for eligible activities. This includes restocking with native trees and shrubs, and associated items including fencing and gates, as well natural flood management items. The Fund also provides capital funding at 100% of the standard costs of creating and protecting new native woodland. Maintenance payments of £200 per hectare per year for ten years (paid at years five and ten) are also available to help with the costs of maintaining new woodland, where eligible.

Dates

Woodland Creation

Woodland creation applications can be made year-round via EWCO.

PAWS

Funding for the restoration of PAWS will remain as a standalone offer and will be open year-round to applications over the next two years, up until March 2025. Applications will be assessed four times per year, with the first deadline on 30 June 2023. Applications submitted by 30 June 2023 will be assessed by a panel in July 2023 before being assigned to a Woodland Officer. Decisions will be communicated by end of October 2023, giving proposals the best chance to be implemented during winter 23/24.

2023/24 Application Cycle Deadlines

Cycle 1 application deadline = Friday 30 June 2023

Cycle 2 application deadline = Friday 29 September 2023

Cycle 3 application deadline = Friday 15 December 2023

Cycle 4 application deadline = Friday 29 March 2024

From 1 July 2023 (Cycle 2 onwards), all new applicants to HS2 Woodland Fund for PAWS restoration (for planting during the 2024/25 winter season and beyond) must use suppliers who can demonstrate they can meet the Plant Health Management Standard. For information and support on how to comply with the requirement read our guide: Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot for Plants and Trees. (EWCO already have a requirement in place for woodland creation applicants to use suppliers who meet the Plant Health Management Standard.)

How to apply

Woodland Creation

Apply via the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO)

Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS)

Complete and send a PAWS only application form, application annex and at least one map to: hs2woodlandfund@forestrycommission.gov.uk. Only applications submitted using the PAWS only form and annex will be accepted.

The Forestry Commission has published guidance on Managing England’s woodlands in a climate emergency. You are advised to read and incorporate its advice into your applications.

Woodland Condition survey must be completed for all PAWs applications. This can either be submitted with your application or completed with your Woodland Officer during a site visit. This straightforward assessment, which involves a walking survey through your wood, will give an overview of the condition of your wood’s habitats and will identify any issues you may need to address as part of your HS2WF PAWs application. The assessment will need to cover the whole woodland, not just the areas to be felled and restored.

Maps

You must submit at least one map showing the boundary of your project and the location of all capital items included in your application annex. Below are links to examples of what these should look like.

·     An HS2 Work Area Map (PDF, 304KB, 1 page). This is a map showing the area of planned restoration activity, including the location of all capital items in your application, areas of open space, and fence lines

·     A Woodland Management Plan Map. This is a map from your Woodland Management Plan showing the entire woodland area and the location of different activity types. This map will demonstrate the context of your HS2WF application within your wider woodland.

All maps should show a 6 figure OS grid reference, North arrow, scale, and key, and all compartment numbers in your application annex should be marked on the maps. You should number your maps and ensure that the name of your woodland is written on it clearly.