In the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside lies the Blenheim Estate, home to the stunning Blenheim Palace and the future home of over 270,000 new trees. The aim is that the new trees will sequester 20,000 tons of carbon over 25 years.
With tree planting and woodland creation, a key part of the country’s drive to net zero, Roy Cox, Estate Director, and his team are highlighting the case for trees to landowners across the country.
“The health of the area around an estate directly affects the wellbeing of the estate itself. By investing in the new woodlands, we are making Blenheim a better place for the community to thrive,” says Roy.
Roy isn’t alone in recognising the benefits of woodland creation and those leading the way in tree planting. The Forestry Commission has a successful Woodland Ambassador programme, volunteers who act as advocates for woodland creation and management. Woodland Ambassadors like Sam Whatmore from Grascott Farm, believe that now is the perfect time for farmers and landowners to use trees to add value to their existing business and diversify their income.
Trees offer a wide range of benefits to farmers and landowners - they boost biodiversity and provide shelter and grazing for livestock, and help with natural flood management and improved water quality. Alongside this, they can generate new income streams from fruit, and timber to commercial recreational activities and leisure use.
Sam himself planted an 85 hectare wood in the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve back in 1998 and generated income from kiln-dried firewood, timber, biomass and other timber products and fully embraced the long-term benefits that tree planting brought to his business.
Right now, if you’re looking for funding and support to get started with a tree planting project then the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), launched in 2021, is the government’s flagship tree-planting scheme.
EWCO covers 100% of standard costs relating to capital items and activities to help you establish new woodland. Once the capital works are complete you will be able to access 15 years of maintenance payments to help establish young trees. You could also receive a contribution towards the actual cost of installing infrastructure that either enables the current and future management of the woodland, or provides recreational access. And finally, should you decide to allow public access to the woodland you would be eligible for additional contributions.
You could receive up to £10,200 per hectare, plus up to a further £8,000 in additional contributions for public benefits. This is before you take into account the additional revenue generated through business diversification. You can register your project with the Woodland Carbon Code, then apply for the Woodland Carbon Guarantee to get paid for carbon credits or offsetting your own businesses’ emissions.
As the Chinese proverb goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.