A fund for Upper Tier Local Authorities only – providing revenue support for the additional staff / consultants required to accelerate plans for tree and woodland planting.
About the Woodland Creation Accelerator FundThe Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund (WCAF) is a simple fund with a total value of just under £8,000,000. It is designed to provide financial support to increase the capacity of specialist skills within local authorities enabling them in turn to accelerate the delivery of tree planting and woodland creation commitments. The ultimate goal of the fund is to enable more trees planted particularly in winter seasons 2023/24 and 2024/25. Authorities across England have identified tree and woodland planting as a key part of their response to the climate change and biodiversity crises. A lack of capacity to develop and design planting proposals, to consult widely, apply for capital grants and organise planting has been identified as a key barrier to progress. WCAF will address this capacity barrier. All upper tier authorities (county councils, unitary councils, London boroughs, metropolitan boroughs, combined authorities) are eligible to apply. (The only exceptions, who will not be eligible to apply, are the two Defra-funded Local Authority-based Woodland Creation Partnerships (Cornwall and Northumberland) and successful applications to the Trees Call to Action Fund who are all already in receipt of direct funding support for staff from the Nature for Climate Fund).
How do I apply?Application is by Expression of Interest (EoI) – all the information required can be found at Defra’s e-portal system. From the home page, click on view current opportunities and then scroll down to the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund. While there is an opportunity to attach supporting documents where these add weight to your answers – we would ask that only short and directly relevant (e.g. a partnership agreement or a Community Forest Director letter of support) documents are attached. All completed and submitted applications will receive an acknowledgement on Bravo. The deadline for applications is 5pm on 8 July 2022.
What funding is available?The WCAF is a revenue only fund (funding new staff and / or consultants). It is designed to be simple and flexible. Individual authorities can apply for up to £150,000 in total – split over two financial years (this funding is based on the typical salary costs of two suitably qualified FTEs). Where authorities are working together in partnership, the ceiling for grant support is up to a total of £300,000. We want you to tell us what you need in terms of additional staff / consultants. As well as thinking about your own planting plans, please also consider tree planting applications from others in your area. Is there a consultation ‘bottleneck’ with your historic environment record which is slowing down or even delaying private land applications, for example? We would expect typical applications to seek funding for new posts such as woodland creation officers, community engagement posts, project officers, specialist consultants or a blend of these. The key thing is that you apply to the WCAF for your specific local needs. As part of the application process we will ask about your recruitment and legacy plans.
AssessmentOnce all of the Expressions of Interest’s have been submitted, we will lot applications according to the proportion of urban planting in order to be able to compare like with like bids. An initial assessment against the following three primary criteria will be completed:
- evidence of need
- commitment to planting by 2025
- a deliverability assessment