The Woodland Investment Grant
Page last updated on 6 October 2023. See all updates.
The need to aid nature’s recovery is urgent. Looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more relevant.
We have previously delivered the Community Woodlands Grant programme. It funded groups across Wales to create woodlands, as places for nature, in their own communities.
The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) is a new programme for landowners to create woodlands for local communities to use and enjoy, as part of the National Forest programme.
What is the National Forest for Wales?
The National Forest for Wales is a venture led by the Welsh Government. It will create a network of publicly accessible woodlands and forests throughout Wales, under high quality management.
The National Forest will stretch the length and breadth of Wales, so that everyone can access it wherever they live. It will include both urban and rural areas – with an early commitment to create 30 new National Forest for Wales woodland sites.
It will deliver a huge range of benefits – called ecosystem services – to the environment, the economy and society:
- playing an important role in protecting nature and addressing biodiversity loss
- increasing locally grown timber production – allowing the local forestry industry to thrive, creating jobs and reducing reliance on imported timber
- supporting the health and wellbeing of communities – a working example of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act
The National Forest will bring people together to connect with and appreciate the woodlands that surround them. The majority of woodland will be planted on a voluntary basis by communities, farmers and other landowners across Wales.
What TWIG offers
TWIG is for landowners and/or those with full management control of land. Your grant will be used to enhance and expand existing woodlands, and under certain circumstances create new woodlands in line with the UK Forestry Standard.
These woodlands must have the potential to become part of the National Forest in the future. This means the woodlands must be:
- give local communities the opportunity to get involved
The scheme will offer:
- grants of £40,000 to £250,000 for woodland projects (exceptional projects costing more than £250,000 may also be considered)
- up to 100% funding
- up to two years to deliver the project
- capital and revenue funding (differences explained below in the ‘What costs can you apply for?’ section)
- large, ambitious and complex projects can use TWIG funding with other Welsh Government grants, as well as other sources of complimentary public and private funding
- a maximum of one TWIG grant per site at any one time (you can make more than one application)
- support from National Forest for Wales liaison officers about the National Forest for Wales programme and how to demonstrate the outcomes
- advice and support from us on how to apply
There will be five rounds of TWIG funding over the next two years. Please read the ‘Application deadlines and key dates’ section for more information on timings.
The total available funding is £1.9million in the financial year 2022–2023. Future year budgets are likely to be approximately £3m.
The programme is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
This is mainly a fund to carry out capital works. A maximum of 25% of each grant can be allocated to revenue spending. In addition, up to 10% of the capital element may be used for project planning and other direct project implementation costs. Guidance for what counts as revenue and capital costs is available below in the ‘What costs can you apply for?’ section.
Who can apply?
The scheme is open to any landowners/managers including not-for-profit organisations and private owners. This is provided that you have the right permissions, licences and consents in place to undertake activity.
What we are looking for
Your project should:
- restore and enhance woodlands in accordance with the National Forest for Wales outcomes
- deliver accessible woodlands for all to enjoy
- Create a woodland with a plan for future maintenance.
Post-project, a single payment to cover five years of maintenance can be included in your grant application. In order to claim this money, you will be required to submit a detailed management plan for the site, on completion of the project (find out more under ‘How to apply’).
- Meet the needs of local people as a public space and contribute to ecosystem services within the local area. For example, addressing biodiversity loss and creating local jobs.
- demonstrate multiple benefits spanning environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing
- consider Natural Resources Wales (NRW) area statement maps, UK Forestry Standard guidance and the Woodland Opportunity Map 2021 for guidance on the likely sensitivities on a proposed site for new planting
We have a particular interest in:
- urban areas that lack green space
- areas that will enable connected nature networks across the length and breadth of Wales
The woodland area must be working towards achieving National Forest outcomes (please read ‘How will we assess applications?’ for more information on these outcomes). There are no limits to the size or arrangement of areas of trees to be planted.
New plantings could be:
- developing and creating new large woodlands
- urban tree planting
- creating or improving community involvement in, and access to, a woodland
- a broad corridor of hedgerow or woods to link two existing woodlands
- complex, ambitious planting projects that span two years
Improvements to existing woodland could be:
- the adoption of a woodland by the local community
- installation of footpaths
- maintenance of degraded access facilities in heavily-used community woodlands
For all projects, Forest Management Plans are required. If these are not already in place, then the grant can cover the costs of preparing a detailed long-term management plan. However, a basic plan must be submitted with your application. Refer to ‘Actions to take before you apply’ for more information.
As part of the National Forest programme, there are three additional themes. Applicants should describe how the project will contribute to at least one of these themes:
- climate change mitigation and adaptation
- supporting tourism and the economy
- supporting or delivering skills and training
What costs can you apply for?
This fund is mainly to carry out capital works. A maximum of 25% of each grant can be allocated to revenue spending. In addition, up to 10% of the capital element may be used for project planning and other direct project implementation costs.
It is important that you identify which of your project costs are capital and revenue. Applications can include any of the following:
Capital spending is money that is spent on investment and things that will create growth in the future. Examples of acceptable capital costs are provided below. Please note that this is not a definitive list and all items of expenditure will be considered on a case-by-case basis:
- purchasing of trees, shrubs and other plants to create, expand or enhance woodland areas
- preparation of a site, such as surveys, fencing, clearing litter and removing invasive non-native species
- constructing accessible pathways and gates with a commitment to keep them open to the public and maintain them for at least 20 years, if not indefinitely
- creating nature/educational trails
- creating spaces for recreation and play
- creating spaces to support and view nature
- the cost of labour associated with the improvement and/or creation of the woodland area
- signage/interpretation boards
- compostable toilets (applicants who are applying for compostable toilets should contact NRW for more advice as permits are often required)
- bike racks
- tools/small-scale equipment for use by members of the local community (works which require larger equipment or specialised skills can be contracted in and funded through this scheme)
- secure storage for tools, equipment and other items to aid community involvement in the woodland
- Managing the disease of ash dieback, where work is essential for public safety. This should only be a small part of a larger project and not a landowner’s legal requirement to undertake.
- project delivery (for example, project planning, procurement of materials, financial management of the project) which is no more than 10% of the capital element
- Welsh language provision, such as costs of translation
- the costs of promoting the woodland to the wider community, such as printing leaflets
- tracks (only if clear evidence of need for public access)
- roads (only if clear evidence of need for public access)
- car park (only if clear evidence of need for public access)
For tracks, roads and car parks, applicants will need to evidence that they have first considered other options for public access to the woodland, such as walking, cycling and public transport. You must discount them with appropriate reasons. Having supporting evidence from local communities/groups of their need for this work will help with your application.
Project delivery costs
Up to a maximum of 10% of this capital grant may be used for project delivery. This means costs that help you to create the woodland, for example: project planning, procurement materials, financial management of the project, compiling, and analysing management information of project delivery.
Up to a further 25% of the value of your grant can be classified as revenue funding. Revenue funding can help with the overall cost of running the project. This includes costs that involve people in the project delivery, and costs to help you meet our mandatory outcome: a wider range of people will be involved in heritage. You can find more about our mandatory outcome in the ‘How will we assess applications?’ section below.
Revenue funding may be used to:
- contribute to the reduction of additional costs from running the project
- Specialist advice/consultancy services. For example, for the preparation of a long term management plan of 15–20 years.
- events to promote the woodland scheme to the wider community, and to celebrate community achievements
- additional hours for an existing volunteer co-ordinator to recruit, train and support volunteers to participate in delivering the woodland
- volunteering good practice and expenses (in line with Wales Council for Voluntary Action guidance)
- project promotion activity
- any reasonable expenditure that will enable the project to succeed
The following items are examples of costs, which are not eligible for TWIG. This is not a definitive list and all items of expenditure will be considered on a case-by-case basis:
- purchase of land
- cost of leasing land
- purchase of buildings
- projects solely removing/managing ash dieback
- re-stocking of trees on a site that has been felled
- work legally responsible for undertaking
- any physical work on site carried out before the authorised start of work date
- purchase of vehicles
- own labour and equipment costs
- Medium/large scale machinery and equipment. However, works which require medium/larger equipment and/or specialised skills (ie: not for use by local volunteers) can be contracted in and funded through this scheme.
- general office equipment and furniture
- maintenance costs
- working capital
- reclaimable VAT
- costs connected with a leasing contract, such as the lessors margin, interest financing cost, overheads and insurance charges
- costs of arranging overdraft facilities, loans or other financial support instruments – including any associated fees or other charges
- overheads allocated or apportioned at rates materially in excess of those used for any similar work carried out by the applicant
- notional expenditure
- payments for activity of a political nature
- depreciation, amortisation and impairment of assets purchased with the help of the grant
- contingent liabilities
- profit made by the applicant
- interest charges
- service charges arising on finance leases, hire purchase and credit arrangements
- costs resulting from the deferral of payments to creditors
- costs involved in winding up a company
- payments for unfair dismissal
- payments into private pension schemes
- payments for unfunded pensions
- compensation for loss of office
- bad debts arising from loans to employees, proprietors, partners, directors, guarantors, shareholders or a person connected with any of these
- payments for gifts and donations
- entertainments, for example staff parties
- statutory fines and penalties
- criminal fines and damages
- legal expenses in respect of litigation
Application deadlines and key dates
There will be multiple rounds of TWIG over the next two years.
Please note: application forms will be issued if you are successful at the mandatory Project Enquiry Form (PEF) stage. Find out more under the section ‘How to apply’.
- PEF deadline: 12 noon on 7 December 2023
- Application deadline: 12 noon on 21 February 2024
- Decision will be made: early May
- Your project completion date: 26 May 2026
Actions to take before you apply
It is expected that all applicants will get the necessary consents or permissions from local authority, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), or other bodies – such as Cadw – prior to submission of an application.
If you do not have all of your permissions/consents in place, you need to provide evidence that you have applied for consent or permission.
Funding is only released once all consents/permissions have been granted, and grants may be withdrawn if these are not received within six months of the grant award.
Woodland Creation Plan
All projects that involve woodland creation over two hectares need to apply to the Welsh Government’s Woodland Creation Planning Scheme before applying for TWIG grant funding.
The scheme offers grants between £1,000 and £5,000 to develop plans for new woodland creation, which can be used to apply for Welsh Government funding for up to five years.
For woodland creation projects under two hectares, please speak to us for further guidance.
Forest Management Plans
All projects will need a Forest Management Plan (FMP), which make sure that:
- woodlands are managed to the principles of the UK Forestry Standard
- woodlands demonstrate delivery of the National Forest essential criteria of ‘good quality, well designed and managed resilient woodlands’
A Forest Management Plan template is available on the NRW website and you can email NRW, who will provide a template on request.
The FMP consists of 14 sections. The woodland liaison officer can advise which sections are required for your woodland, but as a minimum you will need to complete the two sections titled:
- FMP Applicant
- Work Programme Summary
The detail in the plan can be proportionate to the size of the project – the larger the site, the more detail we would expect to see in your plan.
Maps of the site and proposed works are important to include as part of the application.
You can apply for the costs to further develop your plan, including the management costs to cover the next five years of work to run the project.
Environmental impact assessments
Before you apply, you must complete environmental impact assessments, or have at least applied for them.
If environmental impact assessments are not required for your project, you must provide evidence for this.
Evidence of land ownership
Land ownership must be evidenced. We need to see an up-to-date office copy from the Land Registry showing that you own the land (or for unregistered land, the relevant deeds). These should be attached to your application.
Leased land must be evidenced and we need to see a copy of the lease, alongside the land owners consent that you may undertake the proposed project.
How will we assess applications?
You must demonstrate how your project meets a number of outcomes and performance indicators, as outlined below.
National Forest outcomes
1. Good quality, well-designed and managed resilient woodlands (essential)
The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) defines the approach to sustainable forest management. Their guidance applies to all woodland.
Visit the NRW website for further information and advice on managing and enhancing woodlands:
2. Woodlands accessible to people (essential)
Your project must improve the quality of existing woodlands. You will need long-term management plans in place to make the woodlands more welcoming, accessible and attractive to potential visitors. Funding may be used to create accessible footpaths and signage.
3. Community involvement in woodlands (essential)
Your project must have significant input from local people. Involving a wider range of people in your project is a mandatory requirement and you must tell us how you plan to do this.
Community involvement will help encourage people to use woodlands through the provision of footpaths, nature trails, sculptures, etc. Community involvement could also include:
- activities to involve people in the restoration and creation of the woodlands
- economic opportunities for local enterprise
- innovation and development
- educational activities
- management of the woodlands through the setting up of voluntary groups, school groups or new enterprises
4. Connected woodlands (highly desirable)
Connectivity in National Forest for Wales sites means enhancing existing woodland areas and creating new ones while considering how they link to other woodland sites and how this could benefit ecosystem resilience.
This outcome is primarily concerned with connecting woodlands to support nature but it could also include work to connect woodlands to people, for example:
- emotional connections to woodlands by helping people to take a real interest in their natural environment
- physical connections between woodlands, or to where people live, through footpaths, cycle paths or public transport
5. Dynamic, multi-purpose woodlands and trees (highly desirable)
Woodlands should be multi-purpose sites, benefitting people, nature and the wider environment.
As part of your application, you must provide evidence that the site is being used in diverse ways, or that this is being worked towards. You could include some or all of the following:
- educational/learning opportunities
- small and medium local level enterprises
- large-scale commercial timber harvesting, supplying more home-grown timber
- supporting biodiversity
We appreciate that not all sites will be appropriate for different uses, and may focus instead on doing just some of these things very well.
6. Woodlands that demonstrate learning, research and innovation (highly desirable)
National Forest woodlands should demonstrate what can be achieved with multi-purpose woodlands. This could involve:
- learning and building on the work of others
- testing new ways of working
- sharing innovation, research and learning with others
The evidence provided for this outcome can be broad. Examples may include demonstrating new and different ways of:
- delivering multi-purpose woodlands
- engaging local communities in development and management of the woodlands
- action to support biodiversity
- providing environmental ecosystem services, such as air and water quality, flood and drought protection
- ensuring resilience to future climate change
- providing educational opportunities, such as forest schools
Please download and fill out our measuring success checklist. The outcomes above can be measured by one or more of the indicators on the list.
Involving a wider range of people in heritage (essential)
Your project must achieve our mandatory outcome: a wider range of people will be involved in heritage.
You should tell us how you will work with under-served and disadvantaged communities. Please look at our good practice guidance on inclusion if you require further information.
You should also work towards the other outcomes that are applicable to your project:
- the funded organisation will be more resilient
- people will have greater wellbeing
- people will have developed skills
- the local area will be a better place to live, work or visit
- the local economy will be boosted
- heritage will be in better condition
- heritage will be identified and better explained
- people will have learnt about heritage, leading to change in ideas and actions
Focus on the outcomes you can achieve well.
Welsh language and acknowledgment
You need to include the Welsh language in your project, and tell us how you will do this in your application form. Translation costs can be included within your budget. Read more information on how to deliver a bilingual project.
You will need to acknowledge your grant as set out in our how to acknowledge your Welsh Government grant guidance.
The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
How to apply
You need to submit a Project Enquiry Form (PEF) on our online portal.
If you are successful at the PEF stage, we will provide you with an application form to complete.
Please follow the steps below:
- visit our application portal and register an account (or login if you have applied before)
- from the pull-down menu, please choose £10,000 to £250,000
- complete and submit a Project Enquiry Form – this is mandatory
- All PEFs will be considered by the grant panel and you may then be invited to develop a full application. If invited to make a full application, you can use our support, or support from National Resource Wales (NRW) Field Officers, to make sure your application is of a suitable standard.
- If your PEF is rejected, you may submit a revised proposal for a later round. There is no appeals process.
There is not a dedicated TWIG Project Enquiry Form template. You should follow the application help notes carefully and answer all questions in our £10,000 to £250,000 grant application form.
Please download and fill out our supporting documents. They need to be submitted as attachments to your application. These include:
- a cost template – this document is mandatory
- measuring success checklist – this will help us check how your project meets our outcomes
- Woodlands plan and consents checklist – we would expect all relevant consents to have been applied for or underway. For more information, please refer to the section of this guidance page called ‘Actions to take before you apply’.
What happens after your project?
Ongoing management plans
Post project funding, a single payment to cover five years of maintenance can be included in your grant application. In order to claim this money, you are required to submit a detailed management plan for the site on completion of the project.
You can include the costs of developing the plan in your application.
National Forest Status
On 23 June 2023, the National Forest for Wales - Status Scheme was launched. The scheme enables exemplary woodlands to join the National Forest for Wales network.
The Status Scheme is not a funding opportunity. It is for woodland sites ready to join The National Forest for Wales.
Applications are open to anyone who owns or has management control of woodland in Wales. This includes not-for-profit organisations and private owners. You can apply at any time of year, but we will consider your application at set times. In your application, you must show how your project meets the relevant National Forest for Wales Outcomes.
There is no limit on the number of woodlands which can be awarded National Forest for Wales Status.
You can discuss prospective sites with National Forest for Wales Liaison Officers located throughout Wales.
Status is voluntary and sites will have the option to leave the National Forest for Wales at any point.
Subsidy control and other legal requirements
It is your responsibility to confirm that your application is considered and checked in relation to subsidy control rules.
At the point of publication of this guidance, public funding for organisations is no longer governed by the European Commission’s state aid rules. This is as set out in Article 107–109 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union and associated regulations and guidelines.
Instead, all grant decisions made after 11pm on the 31 December 2020 are subject to the new UK subsidy control regime. The principles are set out in Chapter 3 (Subsidies) of Title XI (Level Playing Field) of Part Two (Trade, Transport, Fisheries and Other Arrangements) of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
There is expected to be further guidance, a consultation and possibly new legislation in this area to build upon those principles. You are expected to comply with the principles of the subsidy control regime and to satisfy any future requirements.
Agreements that are entered into will be reviewed and varied accordingly. We reserve the right to impose further requirements and additional conditions in relation to this matter.
It is your responsibility to check whether state aid or subsidy control clearance is required. Seek independent legal advice if you are unsure whether a project will require clearance.
Working on private land
Many designated habitats and species are on land that is owned by private individuals or for-profit organisations.
Projects can deliver works or activities on private land, as long as any public benefit clearly outweighs any potential private gain. Also, provided that subsidy control rules are not breached.
For example, we could fund the planting of community orchards or create ponds. But, they should not add financial value to the land, or convey any indirect financial benefit that could breach subsidy control rules.
When working on private land, we understand there may be limits to public access. However, we do encourage public access to some of the site to be eligible for grant funding. To improve access, you may also apply for funding for new infrastructure, such as paths, fencing, gates or hides. Gates and paths must be suitable for use those with limited mobility and meet the mandatory outcome to involve a wider range of people.
Ash dieback and re-stocking
We will not consider applications for projects solely to remove or manage ash dieback.
Projects which have a small element of ash dieback – as part of a wider project to restore and enhance nature – may be considered. You will need to provide evidence that shows a gain to biodiversity and creation of resilient ecosystems.
The re-stocking of trees on a site that has been felled is not eligible for TWIG funding. Re-stocking is a legal requirement of felling licences and cannot be funded through this scheme. However, TWIG could fund the other parts of the project, such as footpaths, signage and seating.
Managing your data
Making a complaint
We understand that you may be disappointed with a decision.
There is no right to appeal for TWIG. We can only review our decision if you can make a formal complaint about how we have dealt with your application. We have a two stage complaint process for this fund.
We will only be able to consider and investigate the complaint if you can demonstrate that:
- we did not follow the published procedures for assessing your application
- we have misunderstood a significant part of your application
- we did not take notice of relevant information
A formal complaint must be made in writing within 10 working days of receiving your application decision. You must send your complaint to: email@example.com
We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days.
Your complaint will initially be reviewed by one of our Nation & Area Directors, who is independent of recommendation and decision panels for this fund.
We aim to communicate a decision within 15 working days from when you submitted your complaint.
For assistance, contact our Customer Services Team on 020 7591 6044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where does the funding come from?
The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Changes to this guidance
We will regularly review this guidance and respond to user feedback. We reserve the right to make changes as required. We will communicate any changes as quickly as possible via this webpage.
- 13 September 2022: In 'Application deadlines and key dates', the round one application deadline was updated from 19 September to 20 September 2022 due to the bank holiday.
- 6 April 2023: A temporary application form was added. If needed, applicants use this to submit Project Enquiry Forms before Thursday 12 April at 12noon, when our application portal is due to come back online.
- 13 April 2023: The temporary application form was taken down.
- 3 May 2023: In 'What costs can you apply for?' under Capital costs, a bullet point was corrected to read: project delivery (for example, project planning, procurement of materials, financial management of the project) which is no more than 10% of the capital element.
- 8 September 2023: Updates to provide information about the National Forest for Wales Status Scheme.
- 6 October 2023: Created a new page for the application help notes. The information about how to apply has not changed.