Community Woodlands guidance

Community Woodlands is a capital grant scheme intended to restore, create, connect and manage woodlands in Wales.

We are offering grants of £10,000–£250,000 for capital projects that will restore, enhance and in some instances acquire land to create new community woodlands in Wales.

Funding nature is our priority

The need to aid nature’s recovery is urgent. Looking after nature and helping people to understand its importance has never been more relevant. That’s why funding landscapes and nature is The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s key strategic funding priority in Wales. 

The projects funded by this grant scheme will help to inform the Welsh Government’s thinking on the long-term development of the National Forest in Wales.

In this period of learning, it is possible that once projects have been completed and evaluated that some may not fall under the National Forest brand, but are good woodland projects in their own right.      

The Community Woodlands scheme will offer:

  • grants of £10,000–£250,000 for woodland capital projects  
  • up to 100% funding 
  • funding for not-for-profit organisations with a bank account and a constitution 
  • pre-application advice (via email: natur@heritagefund.org.uk)

Timings

  • applications are open until 21 October 2021, with decisions within eight weeks of application
  • the grant programme may close earlier if all money is spent before the closing date

Requirements

  • projects involving acquisition of land must demonstrate good value for money, be well planned and demonstrate that it meets needs identified by the community

The total available funding is £2.1million. Applications can be submitted from June 2020 until 21 October 2021. 

The programme is jointly funded by the Welsh Government and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.  

Essential criteria   

1. Good quality, well-managed woodlands in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS): "the right tree in the right place"

The UKFS defines the approach of the governments in the UK to sustainable forest management. This applies to all woodland. 

The standard covers different elements of sustainable forest management including: 

  • biodiversity 
  • climate change  
  • historic environment 
  • landscape  
  • people  
  • soil  
  • water    

For further information and advice on managing and enhancing woodlands, visit:

2. Accessible to the public  

Please see our Landscapes and Nature guidance.

3. Minimum size   

There are no limits to the size or configuration of areas of trees to be planted.

New plantings could be:

  • the creation of a new block of woodland on a derelict quarry site
  • street trees within an urban neighbourhood
  • a broad corridor including a new footpath to link two existing woodlands

Improvements to existing woodland could be:

  • the adoption of a woodland by the local community
  • thinning
  • installation of footpaths
  • maintenance of degraded access facilities in heavily used community woodlands

For all schemes, tree or woodland management plans will be required. If these are not already in place then the grant can cover the costs of preparing a management plan.  

4. Community involvement 

These projects must have significant input from local people. For your project to be a success, the range of people benefiting from heritage will be more diverse than before your project started. 

Community involvement will help encourage people to use woodlands through the provision of footpaths, nature trails, sculptures etc.

Ideally, community involvement would 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, new enterprises etc

Highly desirable criteria

Connectivity  

As new woodlands are created, connectivity to other woodlands should be taken into account.

In the early years of the National Forest this may not always be feasible, but it will become more important as the area of woodland in Wales increases, helping us to achieve our ambition of a connected National Forest across multiple locations, spanning the length of Wales.

We are keen that our investment in natural heritage has the greatest impact in conserving and improving habitats that already exist. You may want to consider a project that enhances a number of existing habitats or that helps join up existing habitats with new planting such as woodlands or meadows, or with landscape corridors such as hedgerows.

While we can fund the creation of entirely new habitats, our greatest concern is to improve the quality and resilience of existing priority habitats. This could be by improving their quality and management, by the creation of buffer strips, by making habitats bigger or by creating greater connection between other nearby habitats. 

Requirements for projects 

It's important that you think about how your project will meet the requirements for this grant scheme.

Your project must:

  1. create, accelerate restoration or enhancement of community woodlands
     
  2. deliver accessible woodlands for all to enjoy
       
  3. be delivered by between June 2020–March 2022
     
  4. create a woodland with a plan for future maintenance
     
  5. be led by or co-produced with the local community and empower them to create and care for woodlands
     
  6. meet the needs of local people, as a public amenity and designed to contribute to the provision of ecosystem services within the local area
     
  7. demonstrate multiple benefits spanning environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing
     
  8. consider Natural Resources Wales areas statement maps, UKFS guidance on the areas suitable for planting and the woodland opportunities map for guidance on areas for new planting


We have a particular interest in areas that: 

  • are focused in areas of deprivation 
  • enable connected nature networks across the length and breadth of Wales 

Capital costs 

Capital spending is money that is spent on investment and things that will create growth in the future. Nature is our greatest asset –it underpins everything we do now and in future, as a society. Examples of capital expenditure include:

  • preparation of a site such as fencing, clearing litter, removing invasive species or constructing accessible pathways and gates  
  • purchasing of trees, shrubs and other plants to create the woodland (see Connectivity above) 
  • buying machinery. Capital spend also includes training in using the machinery, operatives and fuel for use during the project. 
  • project planning, procurement and financial management of the project costs
  • the cost of labour associated with any activities related to the creation of the woodland 
  • costs promoting the woodland to the wider community for example: printing leaflets  

Up to a maximum of 10% of this capital grant may be used to enable project delivery. By this we mean costs that enable you to create the woodland such as project planning, procurement materials, financial management of the project, compiling and analysing management information of project delivery.

You may not include any core organisational costs such as office lease, heating, lighting, ICT,  as these are your normal business running costs. From Year 2 of the grant onwards you may not include the ongoing cost of maintenance, training or running your project.

Activity costs 

You may also include costs that enable the project to involve people in delivery and meet National Lottery Heritage Fund published outcomes including the mandatory outcome that “a wider range of people will be involved in heritage [including Land and Nature").

These costs can be up to 30% of the total grant amount applied for, and could include: 

  • 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 

This grant scheme does not fund Full Cost Recovery of organisations' core costs.  

Ash Die Back

The fund will not consider applications for projects solely to remove or manage Ash Die Back. 

However, projects which have a small element of Ash Die Back, as part of a wider project to restore and enhance nature, may be considered. Strong evidence that demonstrates a net gain to biodiversity and creation of resilient ecosystems will need to be made. 

Ongoing management 

Funding can only be offered where there is a clear plan for ongoing management after funding is finished. You do not need to submit a formal plan to us but we will want to see that it is being considered and there is a woodland management plan in place.  

Welsh language 

You’ll need to include provision for Welsh language within your project. Tell us how you will do this within your application form. You can include translation costs within your budget. 

Acknowledgements 

You will need to acknowledge your grant as set out in National Lottery Heritage Fund guidance. Order Welsh/English material only. 

You will need to acknowledge your grant as set out in Welsh Government guidance. National Forest branding guidelines will be available from November 2020.  

How the application process works: 

Submit a full application via our online portal at any time and your application will be assessed within eight weeks. Applications will be accepted until 21 October 2021 unless all money is spent prior to that date. 

How to apply 

  1. Visit our application portal and register an account (or log in if you have applied to The National Lottery Heritage Fund previously). 
  2. From the pull-down menu please choose £10,000–£250,000).
  3. Complete and submit a Project Enquiry Form. This gives us a chance to provide feedback on your idea before you complete a full application. 
  4. Once you have received feedback on your Project Enquiry, complete and submit a full application. 

There is no dedicated National Forest Community Woodlands application form. You should follow these instructions carefully alongside our regular guidance and answer all questions in our (£10,000-£250,000) grant application forms. There are links to application guidance and help notes below. 

Naming your project: 

Start your project title with #COED to help us correctly identify your application e.g. #COED Bangor community Woodland. There is a limit of 15 words.

Applying for grants between £10,000 and £250,000 

You will need to use this guidance alongside the application help notes to answer the questions. 

English application guidance

English application help notes 

Arweiniad ymgeisio 

Nodiadau Cymorth 

Section 1 

Question 1a and 1b – use the application notes page 4 to help you answer these questions. 

Question 1c – in no more than 200 words tell us: 

Question 1d – refer to application help notes page 4 (provide a grid reference if you can) 

Question 1e – enter your project start and finish date. All capital works and activities MUST be completed by 31 March 2022.   

Question 1f –  write n/a. 

Question 1g – use the application notes page 5 to answer this question. Advice may have been received from your local biodiversity officer, Wildlife Trust, planning officer etc. 

Question lh – use the application notes page 5 to answer this question to tell us about the communities that you are working with. Tell us if your project is located in an area of deprivation and provide postcode location/s of the project.  

Question 1i and 1j – use application help notes page 6 to answer these questions. 

Question 1k – use application help notes page 6 to answer this question but also refer to the Welsh Government logo which you will also need to display. 

Section 2 

Question 2a – provide a description of the site as it is today and how you are trying to improve it with this project. Supply factual information about the asset such as size, features, condition and why it is important to your local area.  

Question 2b – tick Landscapes and Nature.

Question 2c – tell us if your site has or you are trying to improve protected habitats or species, for example species identified in a Biodiversity Action Plan, European protected species of plants etc.

Question 2d – tick the options that apply.

Question 2e – This is a capital scheme so you will need to answer yes (see definition on page 2). Follow the application help notes page 8 to give us more information. 

Question 2f and 2g – use application help notes page 8 and 9 to answer this question.

Section 3 

Use application help notes page 10 and 11 to answer all of the questions in this section.

Section 4 

For this grant programme you only need to achieve the outcome ‘A wider range of people will be involved in heritage'.  

  • there is a limit of 300 words for this section 
  • we do not expect you to achieve any other National Lottery Heritage Fund outcomes with this project 

What does the outcome mean? 

There will be more people engaging with our landscapes and nature and they will be more diverse than before your project. Changes will have come about as a direct result of your project, and particularly your community engagement work and community consultation. You will collect and analyse information about the people who engage with your natural heritage – and those who don’t – before, during and after your project.

How will you know what you have achieved?

You will be able to show that your audience profile has changed; for example, it includes people from a wider range of ages, ethnic and social backgrounds; more disabled people; or groups of people who have never engaged with your heritage before.

You will be able to show how more people, and different people, engage with our natural heritage as visitors, participants in activities, or volunteers, both during your project and once it has finished. 

Section 5 

Using the application help notes pages 15-17, tell us how much it will cost to deliver your project. Before you begin: 

Costs that we cannot fund in this grant programme: 

  • Full Cost Recovery 
  • statutory and/or legal responsibilities 
  • recoverable VAT 
  • ongoing project costs 
  • costs for activity that has taken place before a grant is awarded 
  • projects on private land where there is no public benefit 
  • activity costs over 30% of total grant request 
  • any activity, including maintenance, that will happen after 31 March 2022 

Section 6 

Use the application help notes pages 18-19 to help you answer all questions in this section. 

Section 7 

Use the application help notes pages 20-22 to help you identify which supporting documents are required.   

Section 8

Use the application help notes page 23 to help you answer these questions. 

Performance indicators

You will need to demonstrate how your project has benefited the environment.

What you need to do

  • Choose the performance indicators most relevant to your project from the list below.
  • Submit your list of performance indicators (including how you will measure each one) as an attachment to your application.

If you are successful in obtaining a grant, these performance indicators will be included in the agreed outcomes for the project.  

Woodland   

Size of woodland [measured in square metres]    

Conifer/broadleaves split [measured in % of hectares]

Tree species and number of each     
 
New Plant per year [measured in square metres]

Connectivity [distance to nearest woodland, measured in miles]

Percentage of restored woodland    

Percentage of Ancient Woodland                     

Well-managed Woodland

What level planning to meet UKFS standards
     
Woodland breakdown by uses [measured in %]

Biodiversity

Pollinator improvements [estimated number]
    
Priority species [number and species planning to benefit]

Squirrel, deer, boar etc [numbers/species]

Bats [numbers/species]

Woodland birds [numbers/species]

Moss/mushroom species

Environmental benefits

Estimated reduction in CO2 [measured in equivalent emissions]

Improved air quality

Improved water quality

Access to water [number of refill/ water fountains]

Accessibility

Number of visitors to woodland

Frequency of visitors [annually]

Visitors' main mode of transport to woodland

Distance travelled to woodland

Reason for visit to woodland

Facilities available (ie toilets, café, car park)

Adaptions made to enable more people to access the site – boardwalks, ramps, surfaces

Natural heritage and tourism

Welsh language: will signs, educational documentation be produced bilingually

Bike trails, walking routes [measured in length/miles]

Other attractions, learning spaces

Community involvement [measured in hours]

Volunteers involved [number]

Economic benefit

Number of employees and/or new jobs created

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