Policy and Regulation

Glensaugh silvopastoral agroforestry

The countries of the UK are producing devolved plans for financial support to agriculture following the UK's departure from the European Union.  These plans are loosely based on the EU regulations, but are showing increasing divergence with time. 

The past schemes of direct payments and subsidies that operated under the EU Common Agricultural Policy are being phased out in the UK, with the payments ceasing in 2027.  For example, in their place DEFRA is developing the Environment and Land Management Scheme (ELMS) for England, backed up by a series of possible payment schemes including the Sustainable Farming Incentives (SFI) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) schemes. 

Details of specific payments under these schemes are still being developed (https://www.organicresearchcentre.com/our-research/research-project-libr...).  However, the levels of payment and eligibility criteria are to be announced by 2024.  While we wait for these details, other organisations have offered agroforestry funding, such as the Woodland Trust's MOREwoods programme.  Under this, landowners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can apply for grants and advice for planting 1 hectare or more with at least 500 trees. 

For more general tree planting there are still various options, such as the England Woodland Creation Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-woodland-creation-offer/), the Forestry Grant Scheme in Scotland (https://www.forestry.gov.scot/support-regulations/forestry-grants/), Woodland Creation Grants in Wales (https://www.gov.wales/woodland-creation-grant-overview/) and the Small Woodland Grant Scheme in Northern Ireland (https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/daera-forestry-grants/).  While these are well established schemes, they are rarely flexible enough to allow for the complexities involved with developing and implementing an agroforestry system.

Perhaps most importantly, a large amount of research is going into identifying the limitation of current policies and regulations, identifying the barriers to agroforestry uptake in the UK.  Frequent issues around levels of funding (particularly longer-term funding), prescriptive planting and design conditions, and tenancy issues have arisen and will need to be addressed in future policy.  

In summary, the future is looking hopeful for agroforestry policy and regulation in the UK.  Limitations currently exist but they are being identified and discussions on how to circumnavigate them are ongoing.  We should soon hear more of the DEFRA options for agroforestry and while they may not be perfect, at least it is a starting point from which they can be developed further as interest in adopting agroforestry expands.  

Note: whilst every effort is made to report the regulations regarding government funding for agroforestry as accurately as possible, the Farm Woodland Forum is not liable for any errors in the information given or changes to it.  Landowners considering planting agroforestry and applying for grant support should consult a professional land agent.

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