Defra seeking applications for funding from projects that can enhance tree planting stocks, boost woodland resilience, and create new forestry markets
The government has this week announced it is seeking applications for funding from two innovation funds designed to boost the sustainability and resilience of the forestry sector.
Defra said the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds and the Tree Production Innovation Fund reopened yesterday (13 March) and are set to provide fresh funding to further support the government's tree-planting goals and help futureproof the UK's forests against stresses like pests, disease, and climate change.
The two funds are expected to award almost £4m to successful applicants working on projects to boost nature regeneration efforts, promote biodiversity, and support innovative approaches to tree production, tree health, and woodland resilience.
The Tree Production Innovation Fund will support the development and deployment of new technologies and ways of working which aim to provide a diverse supply of healthy young trees.
Meanwhile, the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds aim to bring an additional 20,000 hectares of existing woodland into active management, so as to help boost biodiversity and protect against pests and diseases. The fund will also support projects which develop new technologies and working practices to help homegrown timber production meet growing domestic and international demand.
The closing date for applications to the Tree Production Innovation Fund is Tuesday 9th May, while the closing date for the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds is Monday 15th May.
"Our trees and forests are under threat from climate change, pests and diseases," said Richard Stanford, chief executive at the Forestry Commission. "Trees have to be resilient for the very long term of their lives and we need to innovate to ensure the woods we have, and those we must grow, thrive.
"The projects supported through these funds are essential in supporting efforts to build larger, more diverse and more resilient treescapes across the country and I strongly encourage all suitable projects to apply today."
The government has pledged to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and plant 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK per year by 2025 in support of both its climate and biodiversity goals. But MPs and campaigners have warned Ministers are currently badly off track to meet the target, warning a significant uptick in planting rates is urgently needed to ensure the goals are met.