It can be challenging to know where to access woodland management advice and to understand potential income streams. That is why we're working with project partners on this new initiative.
The PIES (Protect Improve Expand Sustain) project provides a network of independent forestry agents to deliver high-quality, funded advice on bringing existing woodland back into management and/or support for woodland creation projects. Farmers taking part will receive an expert site visit and a customised report, plus ongoing online support and technical services.
Launched last year, the project has already approved more than 80 funded advisory visits to landowners and farmers across England. With more funding now available, further applications are invited.
Apply for the project: SYLVA | PIES Project
The project is hugely collaborative; it's funded by the Trees Call to Action Fund, developed by Defra in partnership with the Forestry Commission and administered by the Heritage Fund. It is being led by a partnership between the Sylva Foundation, the Canopy Foundation and Grown in Britain and is working closely with the Forestry Commission and the NFU to deliver the project for three years (2022-25).
How does it work?
Applications are described as “straightforward” and eligible farmers include those with existing woodland that do not have a current management plan in place, and/or any farmer interested in creating new woodland on their land. The offer is available only to farmers in England.
Following the initial advice and visit, plans and maps will be shared with the farmer via a free account on the myForest platform run by Sylva Foundation. The platform provides ongoing support, while simplifying the process of applying for government incentives and meeting regulatory requirements.
In addition, Grown in Britain Forest Certification is offered free as part of the project, supporting eligible farmers in making the most of their woodland resource.
Not only does PIES support government objectives in the England Trees Action Plan, but it also chimes with central asks in the recent NFU Tree Strategy, including the importance of incentives to bring existing woodlands back into management to deliver more outcomes for farmers, wider society and the environment.
According to Forestry Commission figures, 50% of the area of woodland in private ownership across England is unmanaged, suggesting significant untapped societal, economic and environmental potential.
The funded advice and visits will help farmers to develop outline plans for existing woodlands and plans and budgets for new plantings. Further support to implement the plans is also available, but this is optional.
The advisory visit and other outputs have been carefully designed to avoid any overlap with activities covered by government incentives. This means any activities beyond the initial advisory visit could still be supported by other grants and funding.