ARCHIVE: Set-aside and Environmental Benefits

Woodland development

Although the forested area of the UK has doubled to ten percent in the last hundred years, much of the New Forest is coniferous monoculture, which provides minimal environmental benefit. Utilising some of the surplus agricultural land that is set-aside would be a perfect opportunity for the establishment of broadleaf woodland on British farms. The food shortage after the second world war led to the destruction of large areas of ancient British woodland, to increase production and profits, and concern about this destruction led to the introduction of legal controls on tree felling (Lloyd et al, 1995). However, recent additions to the CAP attempt to provide incentives for tree planting on agricultural land.

The Woodland Management Scheme is one such scheme designed to encourage the establishment of new woodland. Planting grants are awarded to plant the saplings, and supplements are available depending on where the proposed new woodland should be sited (land quality, public access and geographic location are all taken into account). Short rotation coppice (growing willow or poplar) is available as an option to both land that has been set-aside and land that hasnt, and guidelines vary depending upon this. In addition, in return for safeguarding/improving the environmental value of the wood and improving/maintaining public access, an annual management grant is awarded.

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