Woodland creation

Traditional Woodland - Lake District National Park

Woodland creation and tree establishment guidelines for the Lake District National Park

Could trees and woodlands be an opportunity for you? On this page we explain the opportunities available to you for woodland creation and how to take steps to implement. From practical information, to advice on funding and who to contact next.

Why trees and woodlands?

Atlantic rainforests, ancient trees and traditional wood pastures help make the Lake District one of the most distinctive landscapes in the world.

But trees and woodlands provide so much more than character and visual appeal. For those working the land, trees and woodlands offer a host of benefits including shade and shelter for livestock, improved soils, crop yields and farm diversification. In the right location, trees and woodlands can increase farm productivity and income through agroforestry and timber for sale or use on farms.

And, of course, woodland ecosystems reduce our climate impact by locking up carbon, providing sustainable building and craft products and wood fuel for energy and heating.

Further afield, local communities benefit from reduced flooding risk, opportunities for employment and places to enjoy the great outdoors for their health and wellbeing. Our Atlantic rainforests, dripping with lush mosses, lichens and ferns, support an enormous wealth of wildlife.

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Where are good places for new trees and woodlands?

It's important to establish the right types of new trees and woodlands in the right places, and it is worth taking the time to plan this early on.

The Lake District National Park Partnership's ambition is to increase woodland cover from 13% to at least 17% to contribute to the Government's legally binding target for tree and woodland cover in England of 16.5% by 2050. This means creating an average of over 200ha of new wood habitats per year - from woodland and forests to wood pasture, scrub to hedgerows and individual trees.

By expanding and linking up existing woody habitats, wildlife can move to colorise new areas and adapt to a changing climate. Diverse mixtures of habitat types (for example mixtures of trees, scrub, grassland and heath) are also great because they provide shelter and a wide range of food all in the same place. While signs such as bracken can indicate areas where trees will grow well, we also need to understand where trees are not appropriate, for example, on deep peat or priority habitats such as species rich grasslands.

You also need to be mindful of the impact of deer and livestock on establishing trees and consider management (such as fencing) for the duration of your project.

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Woodland and tree cover types

Only 13% of the Lake District is woodland. We want to boost this figure by expanding, linking and enhancing our most important habitats, which include Atlantic Rainforest and wood pastures with some of the most valuable ancient trees in Europe. They are a part of our heritage and culture, absorb carbon, clean our water and reduce flooding.

The Cumbria Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) outlines some of the types of woody habitats that might be appropriate for the Lake District. See online resources for further information.

Traditional Woodland

Traditional woodlands & forests

At least 20% canopy cover over 5m in height. Can have multiple objectives, including timber and biodiversity.

Wood Pasture

Wood pasture

Wood pasture is grazing land with standing trees (often veteran) providing shelter and shade for livestock. Often alongside other high-value habitats.

Coppiced Woodland

Coppiced woodland

An ancient form of managing woodland. Trees are cut at regular intervals to provide timber for a variety of products.

Successional Scrub

Successional scrub

Generally smaller growing trees such as hawthorn and willow that provide high biodiversity value, especially when mixed with other habitats.

Wet Woodland

Wet woodland

Found on wet soils and alongside watercourses. Can assist in improving water quality and management.

Individual Trees

Hedges and individual trees

Provide shelter and shade for livestock and homes for wildlife such as birds, bats, insects, flowers, ferns, fungi, lichens and mosses.

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Funding and advice

There is a significant amount of support available to landowners in the form of funding, grant aid and advice. Advisors can provide you with the expertise and guidance to assess your project against objectives at each stage of the design process. They can also help you identify the right funding for your project and how to apply, including regulatory approval. Some of the tree and woodland establishment funding schemes are listed below.

FundingMin SizeDescription
Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) - Forestry Commission5ha but can be smaller blocksFunds the production of a UKFS compliant plan, including contribution to paying for surveys.
The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) - Forestry CommissionMinimum 1haFunds planting and natural colonisation (plus 100% of required capital items and maintenance payments for 10 years). Additional contributions to deliver public benefits such as access, water quality and nature recovery.
Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier - Defra/Natural EnglandN/AAnnual area and capital payments for tree planting, fencing and guards to create scrub, wood pasture, orchards and hedgerows.
Landscape Recovery Scheme - Defra/Natural England500ha but not necessarily all woodlandBespoke projects for significant nature restoration at the landscape scale. Includes funding for a project development phase.
MOREwoods - Woodland TrustAll types, minimum 500 trees/0.5haSubsidised supply of trees and guards for woodland of 0.5ha+.

Eligible woodland creation schemes can be registered under the Woodland Carbon Code to provide access to fully regulated carbon markets to sell sequestered carbon, including to the UK government via the Woodland Carbon Guarantee Scheme.

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7 key factors for woodland creation in the Lake District

7 Key factors for woodland creation


The Lake District is a world class visitor destination where access and commons rights are important to the people and heritage. Woodland Creation design and establishment must safeguard existing access rights and, where possible, enhance high quality and unique experiences for visitors and residents.

Historic Environment

The distinctive environment of the Lake District includes its archaeology, historic landscapes, designed landscapes, industrial sites, and settlement and building character. Tree planting and woodland design should seek to protect and enhance these landscapes and features and avoid damaging them.

Climate change

Establishing new trees and woodlands has a significant role to play in reducing the impact of climate change on the sensitive habitats and landscapes of the Lake District. Choose species and design woodlands that will thrive in a changing climate and help wildlife adapt.


Design projects to expand valuable habitat, enhance the value of existing ones and help species to move across the landscape. For existing habitats, think carefully about whether or not native trees and scrub will add value. Respect legal protections for wildlife (including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and protected species legislation).


All woodland creation proposals should aim to contribute to improving the water and wildlife condition of lakes and wetlands and slow down flood waters. Position woodlands to protect habitats by capturing nutrient and sediment pollution and to provide shade for watercourses.


The Lake District’s landscape is spectacular and subtle. Every valley is distinctive. The transition between trees and other vegetation is key and should be carefully considered in woodland design. World Heritage Site (WHS) status requires additional care and woodland design should protect and enhance the WHS and avoid
harm to its features.


Lake District soils are often vulnerable to erosion. Well designed and managed woodland can help protect soil and the carbon it contains. Minimise soil disturbance and compaction during establishment or encourage natural colonisation. Do not plant trees on deep peat or drain wetlands.

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Things to consider before going ahead

As a National Park and World Heritage Site, it is vital all woodland creation and tree establishment respects the existing landscape of the Lake District. There is also wildlife legislation and other national standards and regulations which need to be adhered to, including the United Kingdom Forestry Standard (UKFS) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations. You can get a taste of the process in the section overleaf and find out more by visiting our online resources.

Advisors are available from several organisations to help guide you through these requirements and make sure your project complies with any regulations as well as offering advice and support on surveys, engaging contractors and sourcing plants from nurseries. They can also advise on how to look after your trees and woodlands in the long-term, which is essential for them to reach their full potential.

Remember, the important things is to get advice early on in your project development. We're all working towards the same thing - a beautiful, healthy Lake District, with the right trees in the right places, doing the right thing for the people and wildlife who live there.

Planning to planting

Successful tree establishment and woodland creation takes planning and preparation and as trees can live for hundreds of years, it is worth getting it right, especially in a sensitive landscape and environment such as the Lake District. If applying for a grant, this could take five months or more, so start early with planning and engaging organisations that are able to help.

Day Zero - Land and Ambition Icon

Step 1: Land and ambition

Establishing trees and woodlands can achieve multiple objectives such as growing timber, providing wildlife habitats and areas for recreation and creating shelter. Decide what you want to achieve on your land and see the section on 'Tree and Woodland cover types' for ideas on how trees might make this possible.

Step 1 plan icon

Step 2: Plan

Once you have decided on your objectives, get your ideas down on a map and consider what factors may be important - e.g. existing habitats, infrastructure and archaeology.

Step 3 - Engage

Step 3: Engage

Engage with stakeholders who may have an interest in the project and/or could provide useful information. It is recommended to engage Natural England and the Forestry Commission who could also support with grants and advice.

Step 4 - Surveys

Step 4: Surveys

Some sites may require surveys for plants, wildlife or historic features. These can add delays to the timeline if the survey seasonal window is missed and should be prioritised.

Step 5 - Finalise Plan

Step 5: Finalise plan

Following outcomes from engagement and surveys, finalise your plan to support any grant application. Get quotes for plants, materials and contractors, if needed.

Step 6 - apply for grants

Step 6: Apply for grants

Grant application may involve regulatory approvals (e.g. EIA screening for woodland creation). Natural England and Forestry Commission staff will advise.

Step 7 plants and materials icon

Step 7: Plants & materials

Once grants are approved, secure plants, materials and contractors where needed (e.g. cultivating, fencing, track building).

Step 8 - Plant Maintain and Enjoy Icon

Step 8: Plant, maintain & enjoy

To ensure tree and woodland establishment is successful, it is essential to plan carefully, not only for initial establishment, but for ongoing maintenance and replacement of planted trees, boundaries, livestock exclusion and deer management.

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Sources of further advice

There are additional resources and guidance available. These pages are regularly updated to include all of the latest information about grant aid, policy and regulations. If you are a tenant, you should speak to your landlord at an early stage. Not all tenancies preclude woodland creation or tree establishment but may need some renegotiation or clarification before doing the work.

Forestry Commission

Woodland Trust

Lake District National Park Authority

  • email: hq@lakedistrict.gov.uk

Cumbria Woodlands

Natural England

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