Grants in The National Forest

18 October 2018

The National Forest Company runs a range of grant schemes including woodland creation and management, community activity and rural tourism.

The National Forest covers 200 square miles across parts of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire –  an interactive location map can be found here.

For more details on the National Forest please see 

Changing Landscape Scheme (creating new woodlands over 1 hectare)

Current situation: The Changing Landscape Scheme (CLS) is currently closed. Applications will reopen January 2019.  

Background: The CLS offers a generous level of funding to any landowner for the creation of new woodlands and associated habitats. It is unique to The National Forest and pays 100% of costs for woodland and habitat creation and its management for 10 years. Land entered into the CLS may incorporate other habitats including parkland, meadows, unimproved grassland, orchards, hedgerows and wetlands.

The CLS requires competitive bids from landowners, with the elements of the schemes drawn from a standard and publicised costs menu. For each item there is a prescribed maximum price which will be paid. A CLS application will be judged according to design and content and upon the overall contribution which it will make to National Forest objectives (as described in the latest strategy 2014-2024).


Freewoods (creating new woods of less than 1 hectare)

Current situation: The Freewoods grant scheme is currently open to new applicants wishing to create new woodlands of less than 1 hectare, within 200 square miles of the National Forest.

Background: If you have land that falls within the 200 square miles of The National Forest, the Freewoods Scheme could help you create your own small woodland, less than one hectare in size.

Freewoods offers three woodland themes, each specifically designed to help landowners tackle some of the most pressing economic and environmental concerns:

  1. Environmental/Commercial. Options to create a firewood wood, designed to supply fuel wood to reduce domestic heating bills and fossil fuel reliance, or a shelterbelt wood to protect soil and livestock from the effects of climate change.
  2. Conservation/Landscape. Options to create a wildlife wood with the best possible conditions to attract birds and other wildlife, a wet woodland to make the most of an area of wetter ground where land is less productive, or a connection wood to improve landscaping and to provide 'corridors' for wildlife to move from one habitat to another.
  3. Amenity. Options to create a colour wood for year round seasonal colour, a sporting wood for game or recreation provision, or a roadside wood for privacy, noise dampening and landscaping.

The National Forest Company will pay all costs for a professional consultant to design, apply, plant and establish the scheme for the first three years. After this, the landowner agrees to the on-going care and management of the woodland.


Woodland Management Grants

Current situation: The Woodland Management Grant scheme application is now closed. Applications will reopen April 2019. 

Background: Funding is available for a wide range of woodland management related activity. This includes management planning, site works primarily focusing on young woodland, managing pests and diseases, woodland management training, public access works and community engagement and development.

Owners and managers of Forest sites including organisations, charities, community groups, local authorities or individuals within the Forest area can apply.


Tourism Small Grants

Current situation: To support the implementation of the National Forest Tourism Growth Plan, the National Forest Company is piloting a new Tourism Small Grants programme. For current information contact Richard Drakeley, The National Forest Company on 01283 551211 or email 

Background: The National Forest Company’s new grant fund is designed to support new start-up and existing tourism businesses to bring forward new investment in ‘on brand’ product development opportunities outlined in the Tourism Growth Plan, or for groups or consortia of businesses to work together collaboratively to deliver new marketing activity or experiences designed to target the higher spending visitors outlined in the Plan.

Grants will be awarded to support the delivery of the Tourism Growth Plan’s core investment principles which are to:

  • lead with the Forest brand;
  • develop distinctive visitor experiences and new product development opportunities that bring the brand to life;
  • create great places that existing and new visitor markets want to visit;
  • communicate what makes the Forest special, with a strong single voice.

In 2018/2019, £20,000 of funding will be available to support a small number of pilot projects that align with the ambitions of the Tourism Growth Plan.  The fund is designed to complement, not to duplicate, other grant funds including EAFRD Tourism Infrastructure grants.  Therefore, in this pilot year, only revenue funded project grant applications will be considered, not capital funding applications.


Small Grants Scheme

Current situation: Small Grants are available throughout the year (subject to funds). However, they are offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis from the start of the ntional Forest Company’s financial year (1 April) and budgets are often fully committed within the first six months.

Background: To support the ongoing creation of the National Forest, the National Forest Company offers small grants to a range of landowners, community groups and other organisations.

The grants are designed to provide funds to support projects that contribute to the aims and objectives of the National Forest. They were formerly delivered through the National Forest Company’s Programme Development Fund (PDF). From 2018, this has been replaced by the Small Grant Fund. Owners and managers of sites within the Forest, together with organisations, charities, local authorities, companies or individuals who operate within the Forest area, can apply for grants to support a range of projects and activities. These include works relating (but not limited) to: access and recreation; biodiversity; communities and education; heritage; tourism and awareness raising; woodland economy, urban tree planting and the improvement of green spaces.

Projects must be delivered within the boundary of the National Forest. For more information download the leaflet here