Changes to Defra's Tree Health Pilot: Find out more

Environment and climate
An image of a woodland scene

The Agricultural Transition Plan committed to help reduce the impact of tree pests and diseases to protect our trees, woodland and forests. During 2021 Defra therefore launched a 3 year THP (tree health pilot). Find out how the pilot has changed for 2023.

What is the tree health pilot?

The THP aims to reduce the impact of tree pests and diseases and was a commitment in the 2020 Agricultural Transition Plan (ATP).

It is a small-scale pilot, offering funding to land managers and owners of small woodland, farmers with trees and those with trees outside woodland, to help combat several tree pests and disease.

The THP has been designed to test new stackable Tree Health grant options within pilot areas, for both group and individual applications.

The pilot will work alongside the existing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Tree Health grants, which will continue to be available until 2024. The learning from the pilot will help to inform the design of the full scheme replacing CS (Countryside Stewardship) schemes in 2024.

Applying in 2023

The THP is open for applications now and is open all year round. You can apply as an individual or on behalf of other people for a group grant.

A new advice package is now available to land managers issued with SPHNs (Statutory Plant Health Notices) within the pilot’s target areas.

The package aims to build knowledge and awareness of tree health, biosecurity and woodland management and includes funding for a forestry/land agent consultation to assist in creating a biosecurity management plan, biosecurity kits, signage and training

Who is eligible?

The pilot is for people who manage the following specific trees or woodlands affected by specific pests and diseases:

  • larch with Phytophthora ramorum
  • spruce growing in the high-risk eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) area - see map of demarcated area
  • sweet chestnut with Phytophthora ramorum or sweet chestnut blight
  • oak with oak processionary moth (OPM) in the established area – see map of the Established Area within London and the South East
  • ash with ash dieback

The trees or woodlands you manage must be in one of the following regions:

  • North West
  • West Midlands
  • London
  • South East

What funding is available?

Where eligible, funding is available for:

  • felling and chemical killing that is considered to be uneconomical without additional support
  • capital items for improving biosecurity
  • improving access in hard-to-reach areas.

Grants for groups will cover the same costs as the above grants for individuals and also include funding for restocking and maintenance of trees following felling.

Standard capital cost items have increased for 2023, including higher rates for deer fencing, tree shelters, maintenance rates and the fee paid to lead facilitators of group applications.

The grants available do vary depending on the species and disease. Please note that the grant does not fund the cost of felling ash trees with ash dieback, the grant however will pay back the costs associated with ash die back management, this includes road closers, surveys, restocking, capital items and maintenance.

The NFU has raised members concerns with Government about the need for support to cover the felling costs associated with ash dieback.

Changes to payments

There is no longer a requirement to obtain multiple quotes for felling operations. Instead, grant holders will be able to claim for cost incurred up to a maximum cap.

This will result in payments being made faster, and swifter action can be taken to reduce the spread of tree pests and diseases.

For more information visit: GOV.UK | The tree health pilot scheme 2023.

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