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Welsh Government officials in attendance

James Biott
Ann Burgoyne
Erika Dawson-Davies

Criteria of funding and eligibility

Does publicly accessible but with economic outcomes refer to timber products for example?

Woodlands that will become part of the National Forest for Wales will need to meet the essential outcomes, i.e. good quality, well-managed, accessible woodlands, which involve the community. As long as these outcomes are met (or being worked towards) it could include woodlands growing timber for harvesting.

If a proposed site is not within the boundary of the woodland creation scored areas will it not be considered?

Eligibility is not limited to woodland creation scored areas. We suggest you consult the Woodland Opportunities Map to see where the opportunities are to plant in your area: http://lle.gov.wales/apps/woodlandopportunities/

Could enhancement of Local Nature Reserve woodland be applied for in 2020/21?

The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) Scheme is open to applications from landowners and those with full management control of land.  The enhancement would need to meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the TWIG-grant-rules-booklet

Can the funding be used to pay for re-planting on National Trails, Wales Coast Path or MTB trails, whilst they are carrying out maintenance or development?

As long as the project aligns with the eligibility criteria and the Outcomes of the National Forest for Wales then yes it can be included.

Can softwood regeneration be cleared in an existing hardwood forest?

Yes, however the project as a whole needs to meet the eligibility criteria. Each project will be assessed initially on its value for money, the fit with the long-term vision for the National Forest, deliverability by 31 March 2022 and the long-term sustainability of the woodlands.

Is natural regeneration eligible?

Yes, however the project as a whole needs to meet the eligibility criteria. Each project will be assessed initially on its value for money, the fit with the long-term vision for the National Forest, deliverability by 31 March 2022 and the long-term sustainability of the woodlands.

Is it possible to put in a bid for funding speculatively for projects in early stages?

Yes, as long as it is foreseeable that all claims will be submitted to the Welsh Government according to the agreed delivery profile and by no later than 31 March 2022. Grants can only be paid on expenditure that has been defrayed, that is, on payments that have cleared from a bank account.

Does the scheme provide funding for the ongoing management of newly established woodland?

TWIG is only a one year scheme, so any work under this round must be complete by 31 March 2022.

Does the funding have to support all the outcomes or at least one?

It does not have to support all of the Outcomes, however the application will be stronger the more Outcomes it substantially supports.

Is TWIG eligible for urban planting, for example including funding for tree pits and infrastructure?

Urban planting can be eligible as long as the Project can demonstrate how the works will help the woodland meet the National Forest outcomes (see Annex 1 TWIG-grant-rules-booklet for more information) or is at least working towards meeting them:

Essential Outcomes:

  • Good quality, well designed and managed resilient woodlands
  • Woodlands accessible to people
  • Community involvement in woodlands

Highly Desirable Outcomes:

  • Connected Woodlands
  • Dynamic, multi-purpose woodlands and trees
  • Woodlands that demonstrate learning, research and innovation

Projects seeking funding must align with these outcomes and make a contribution to the overarching long-term vision for a National Forest.

Is TWIG eligible for the implementation of pastoral woodland, for example implementing scattered tree planting in existing grazing land?

Yes, if it can be shown to meet the outcomes, contribute to the vision for the National Forest and meet the eligibility criteria e.g. min spend of £10k etc.

Do you need to have a CRN (Customer Reference Number) number to be able to apply?

Yes, this is a Welsh Government Customer Reference Number.

In terms of accessibility is improving paths and providing facilities like new toilets/disabled toilets appropriate?

These examples are considered appropriate as we want the National Forest to be accessible to all as far as possible. Each application will be reviewed on how the project as a whole meets the criteria. The Project will be required to demonstrate how the works will help the woodland meet the National Forest outcomes (see Annex 1 TWIG-grant-rules-booklet for more information) or is at least working towards meeting them:

Essential Outcomes:

  • Good quality, well designed and managed resilient woodlands
  • Woodlands accessible to people
  • Community involvement in woodlands

Highly Desirable Outcomes:

  • Connected Woodlands
  • Dynamic, multi-purpose woodlands and trees
  • Woodlands that demonstrate learning, research and innovation

Projects seeking funding must align with these outcomes and make a contribution to the overarching long-term vision for a National Forest.

Is the felling of trees that are dead or diseased eligible?

The Felling of dead or diseased trees would need to be a small part of an enhancement project and not the sole purpose of the project e.g. removing them because they pose a health and safety risk. Each project will be assessed initially on its value for money, the fit with the long-term vision for the National Forest, deliverability by 31 March 2022 and the long-term sustainability of the woodlands. The greater the contribution that the project can make to the appropriate National Forest objectives and outcomes the more likely it is to be recommended for selection.

Are areas such as urban tree mapping, identifying tree planting opportunities eligible?

No, the scheme provides grants to enhance and expand existing woodlands and create new woodlands in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard, which have the potential to become part of the National Forest in the future.

What level of community involvement is required for a project to be eligible?

The TWIG guidance document includes further detail on the outcomes at Annex 1. In essence, we are looking for evidence you have or will reach out to local communities for them to have a say in the plans for the woodland. Where appropriate, this may extend to them getting involved in the planting and management of the woodland.

There will be further detail on the outcomes in the National Forest Status scheme due later in the year.

In areas of under managed woodlands where there are no extensive areas suitable for new planting, is the development of a management and access approach to the future development of existing woodlands eligible?

Yes, the funding is for both new and/or existing woodlands.

Is the mapping of tree planting opportunities by Local Authorities included in TWIG applications relating to Tree Towns and the developing or expanding urban forest?

No, not in this current round of funding. The purpose of this scheme is to provide grants to enhance and expand existing woodlands and create new woodlands in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard, which have the potential to become part of the National Forest in the future.

Does being in a low scoring area for the Glastir Woodland Opportunities Map hinder chances of being eligible under TWIG?

No, each project will be assessed initially on its value for money, the fit with the long-term vision for the National Forest, deliverability by 31 March 2022 and the long-term sustainability of the woodlands.

Could TWIG funding be used to link a community with a woodland to help improve Active Travel / Accessibility?

Yes it can, but ideally it would be part of a project rather than the sole focus for the funding, as the scheme provides grants to enhance and expand existing woodlands and create new woodlands in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard.

Timescales

The timescales to submit applications and deliver projects are very tight for what may be large woodland creation projects which can take many months to get EIA approval and grant approval. Will the approval processes be streamlined to facilitate private landowners in applying?

The Welsh Government acknowledges the timescales involved this year are not ideal for large woodland creation projects and some projects will not be possible in the timeframe. However, Welsh Government understands that in some instances there will be projects currently going through the consents processes, which will thereby be unable to have all permissions in place when making an application. Therefore, in this instance applications will be accepted prior to the necessary agreements. However, these agreements will be required to be detailed within the application and will be required to be obtained before the project begins. A failure to have the necessary licences and or agreements in place by the agreed dates within the application will result in a withdrawal of grant award.

The payment of any grant will not be made until the original licence and/or agreement approval documents have been received and approved by the Welsh Government.

Why is it such a tight deadline?

The Welsh Government acknowledges the timescales involved this year are not ideal for many woodland creation projects and some projects will not be possible in the timeframe. However, we are working under the constraint of a one-year budget allocation. 

All applications will be assessed after the closing date (27th August), we need to allow sufficient time for ground preparation and planting to occur before costs are defrayed and grants claimed before 31st March 2022.

In such a short time span how is it envisaged applicants will be able to work up a woodland based, long term project and get their application in by the end of August as well as spend up to £250k by next March?

We understand this may not be achievable for all woodland creation projects, but this year we are under a short budget timeframe. If you have a project that could potentially create a National Forest woodland, but it cannot be delivered this year under this scheme, the National Forest team would like to hear from you to help us to develop and refine the scheme for future years.

Newly planted trees require ongoing management over years whilst they establish, how is this reflected in a scheme that requires spend by the end of the financial year? Is there not a risk that trees planted will fail under this approach?

We recognise that long term maintenance is essential for quality woodlands. The scheme provides grants to enhance and expand existing woodlands and create new woodlands, which have the potential to become part of the National Forest in the future, in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard. As part of the application a management plan which sets out how the trees will be maintained will need to be provided. TWIG requires a commitment of 20 plus years.

Through short term funding of a project which requires a long-term commitment how does Welsh Government plan to assist the long-term management of existing or newly planted woodlands as part of this initiative?

We currently only have access to funding for one year. As part of the development of the National Forest Programme there will be a Consultation later this year which will address areas such as this. 

Compatibility of funding

Are there any restrictions when a site has been successful through TWIG and then in future years wants to apply for more grant funding or receive payments from other sources such as private investments for ecosystem services / natural capital payments?

TWIG will not restrict future funding. Section F in the TWIG-grant-rules-booklet provides further detail regarding monitoring of the project.

Can TWIG be combined with other funding already secured for projects?

TWIG can be combined with other funding – each case will be assessed to ensure there is no ‘double funding’ i.e. each funding source paying for the same expenditure. 

Evidence will need to demonstrate how the funding aligns with National Forest for Wales Outcomes, see TWIG rules booklet for more information ‘... blending TWIG grants with other funding streams. For example, if you have recently planted or about to plant a new woodland funded via other sources, such as the Welsh Government’s Glastir Woodland Creation Scheme or private investment, are there aspects of the woodland that could be improved with additional funding from this scheme e.g. to create new or enhanced public access.’

Who can apply

Is the scheme open to groups that currently have a management agreement for Natural Resources Wales woodland?

TWIG is open to applications from all landowners and those with full management control of land for woodlands beyond the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, so in this instance it is unlikely you would be able to apply.

Are Local Authorities eligible to apply?

Yes, the scheme is open to applications from all landowners and those with full management control of land.

Capital related areas

What percentage of funding is on offer for capital items?

Funding can be 100% capital.

A maximum of 10% revenue project costs can be included in the application. 

For community volunteer groups who lack capacity to achieve new woodland for social as well as nature purposes with no paid coordination, will there be a fund that enables a higher ratio of revenue to capital?

No, TWIG funding allows a maximum of up to 10% of the total project cost, for revenue expenditure. 

As part of the development of the National Forest Programme there will be a Consultation later this year which will address areas such as this. 

Can exceptions be made for purely voluntary groups?

No exceptions can be made within this grant fund.

Can the funding be spent towards employment for extra help?

Yes, revenue funding up to 10% of the total project cost is available to fund the enhancement and expansion of existing woodlands and the creation of new woodlands which can include spend towards employment.

Would funding be considered for infrastructure to protect areas of natural regeneration e.g. adjacent to existing ancient woodland sites?

It could be considered. TWIG provides funding for fencing etc.

Can the grant be used to fund land purchase?

Land purchase can be funded, but for no more than 10% of the total project cost.

Can TWIG funding be used to buy a plot of derelict land that would be fully planted with trees and made available to the local community?

Yes, land purchase can be funded, but for no more than 10% of the total project cost.

Type of woodland / trees

Is there guidance in terms of which species of tree to plant (e.g. native species, climate change resilient species etc.)?

There is no specific criteria regards which trees to plant for TWIG, but we do support the right tree right place approach and all work is to be carried out in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard. For further information and advice on managing and enhancing woodlands, visit:

What is the proportion of conifer to broadleaves you are aiming to plant?

There is no target set.

In regards to new woodlands being in line with UK Forestry Standards, does this mean that new forests are to be only coniferous rather than deciduous?

No, UKFS applies to all woodlands.

Often people focus on poor land from the agricultural point of view for woodland creation. This is often the land of high biodiversity, landscape, cultural/historic point of view value. Who decides which habitat gets priority - new woodland or unimproved/semi-improved grasslands, scattered scrub areas etc. so important for a multitude of flora and fauna?

There is no current priority of habitat. Each application for TWIG is assessed on the criteria outlined in the guidance.

Public access element

Will the fund only support public woodlands or those that will become public woodlands?

Woodlands that are accessible to people is one of the essential outcomes for the National Forest for Wales. Therefore, we will need to see evidence it is publicly accessible now or is part of the plan in the future, once the woodland has had a few years to establish, for example.  

What proportion of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate is accessible to the public? 

Please refer to Natural Resources Wales for this information: Natural Resources Wales / Places to visit

Is the public access aspect on a permissive basis or in perpetuity?

This is site specific. TWIG requires a commitment of 20 plus years.

Does the full area planted need to be accessible?

The funding is to help woodlands work towards being part of National Forest for Wales.  Whilst working towards this we understand some areas may not initially be available, in the long term it is expected they will be accessible. Although we appreciate there could be some areas that need to be restricted to the public indefinitely.

Does public access need to be totally open or can it be on a managed basis such as regular open days?

It is expected woodlands will be available to the public year around as this is a key outcome for the National Forest, but the whole site does not need to be open to the public if there are good reasons for not doing so.  

What will direct the public to access the sites? A map or website of forests?

All sites will be branded National Forest for Wales and site information is currently available on National Forest for Wales: woodland sites | GOV.WALES . In the future we may develop other tools to encourage people to visit sites, such as an app.

Gaining National Forest status

How do I get areas of woodland assessed to see if they meet the standards expected?

Further information on how woodlands can become part of the National Forest for Wales will be announced later this year.

Where is there information on why the exemplar sites have been chosen?

The information is available from Natural Resources wales: National Forest for Wales Exemplar Sites

Future plans/long term

Will the next (similar) funding scheme provide a longer time frame to build quality applications?

It is hoped that this will be the case.

When do you envisage the next round opening?

This is dependent on funding allocation, it is hoped that this will be possible in the 2022/23 financial year.

What will the longer term support for management of woodlands be?

This will form part of the post Consultation development of the National Forest for Wales. The Consultation is due to be released later this year.  

Registration and application process

Are there packs of information about the scheme/grant that could be posted out to people?

You can contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 062 5004. Welsh Government officials will then endeavour to make arrangements to accommodate your requirements.

Are the application questions available without logging into RPW Online?

Yes, the information can be accessed on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/national-forest-for-wales-the-woodland-investment-grant 

How time consuming is the application process for the applicant?

This will depend on the size and complexity of the project. We are trialling a new form, which will hopefully make the process quicker and simpler for applicants and WG.

Please see TWIG-grant-rules-booklet  for further information on the process.

There is a lot of needs / numbers / registration mentioned. Can you clarify these for community groups?

The process is the same for all applicants.

Please see TWIG-grant-rules-booklet for further information on the process.

What is a CRN number?

A CRN (Customer Reference Number) is the number you are given when you create a Rural Payments Wales (RPW) account. RPW use this number to link to your application. You can get a CRN by contacting RPW, customer contact centre - 0300 062 5004 or applying online: RPW Online: how to register | GOV.WALES

Once you have registered with RPW you will be able to use your RPW Online account to:

  • Complete Expressions of Interests (EOIs) and Applications
  • Be notified by text or email message for any important updates
  • Check the status of any live or ongoing claims
  • Ask and respond to queries from RPW, including uploading documents
  • Update your business details
  • Give permission for Farming Union representatives and Agents to complete business on your behalf, if you so wish
  • Add and manage Country Parish Holdings (CPH).

How to create an RPW account

To register for an RPW account you can do this online, further information can be found on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/rpw-online-how-register

Information on the process specific to TWIG can also be found on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/national-forest-wales-woodland-investment-grant-using-rpw-online-apply 

General questions

How much does it cost to get a professionally written woodland management plan?

The cost of a management plan will be dependent on many factors including size of woodland complexity of the site.

Is there an implementation budget for communities to buy in experts to put bids together?

No. We would suggest you speak to Llais Y Goedwig for guidance in the first instance. 

Are the elements of hedge row trees and shrubs, orchards, in-field trees, rows of trees on field boundaries, urban street trees etc. covered and funded well enough to ensure uptake?

The purpose of the scheme is to provide grants to enhance and expand existing woodlands and create new woodlands in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard, which have the potential to become part of the National Forest in the future. We recognise there are many types of trees or woodlands that contribute to climate change mitigation, increased biodiversity and sustainable habitats, and supporting health and wellbeing.

Will Cadw and the Welsh Archaeological Trusts be consulted to consider historic environment needs?

Yes, when appropriate. – Please refer to the Woodlands Opportunities Map, we recognise the importance of historic environment needs, established habitats and biodiversity (right tree right place approach).

Is this project funded via the Rural Development Programme?

No it is funded via the National Forest for Wales Programme budget.

Is there interest in investing in skills for work in woodland?

Yes there is interest, this was discussed in our three day event in March this year, recordings of the event can be found here: The National Forest / Coedwig Genedlaethol - YouTube

There are some great woodlands across Wales, why have they not been included to date?

The 14 Exemplar sites announced last November during Wales Climate Week are part of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate. More woodlands will become part of the National Forest for Wales over time.

National Forest for Wales: woodland sites | GOV.WALES

Do the connectivity maps include Natural Resources Wales owned forestry?

The maps included in the National Forest for Wales presentation at the TWIG event (21st July) were examples of how the National Forest for Wales might be developed over time. Specific woodland locations have not been used. The Welsh Government Woodland Estate which is managed by Natural resources Wales would be a part of the maps, although not all of it may be National Forest.

Has supply of trees been investigated as part this funding opportunity?

We have  funded capacity building in Nurseries through the Forestry Industry Recovery Scheme (FIRS) and Timber Business Investment Scheme (TBIS) capital funding this year to help with this and we will be monitoring the requirement for stock as applications are reviewed.

Are there any plans to support new tree nurseries to provide stock?

We have  funded  capacity building in Nurseries through the Forestry Industry Recovery Scheme (FIRS) and Timber Business Investment Scheme (TBIS) capital funding this year to help with this and we will be monitoring the requirement for stock as applications are reviewed.

How big does Welsh Government want the National Forest for Wales to be?

The National Forest will be a long-term programme matching the scale and ambition of the Wales Coast Path, linking together a network of woodlands across Wales.

Does being a member of the National Forest for Wales mean the woodland will be conserved and protected for the future as it is within a Covenant?

There will be a Consultation at the end of this year to determine how the National Forest for Wales will be developed and delivered long term – for generations to come.

Is a multi-user access approach to the National Forest for Wales envisaged as it develops or is the aim only for public pedestrian access?

When we talk about public access we are aiming for a multi-user approach. Ultimately, it will be what is appropriate for the site.  

There was talk of three options for the National Forest, when will that be decided?

There will be a Consultation later this year which we encourage everyone to respond to with their views.  Further work will take place following the Consultation on considering which option or approach is best suited to the National Forest for Wales.

Will there be other funding opportunities to potentially bring public forest estate within the National Forest?

Funding Opportunities for the Welsh Government Woodland Estate will be determined by arrangements with Natural Resources Wales.

Is it worthwhile considering areas that are already naturally regenerating (including in the early stages) but where management/protection would allow these to develop more rapidly into woodlands?

All applications which meet the eligibility criteria will be considered.

Is there a way I can contact seedling producers about transferring innovations?

You would need to contact them direct to ask.

Will support be given to the funding of environmentally friendly alternatives e.g. for tree protection, even though these may be more expensive?

The TWIG guidance document does ask that applications take account of wider environmental considerations such as using bio-degradable alternatives to plastic tree guards and ties.

What is the grant intervention rate?

The grant rate is 100%.

How does the National Forest for Wales fit with the Valleys Regional Park?

The National Forest will create areas of new woodland and help to restore and maintain some of our irreplaceable ancient woodlands. In time it will form a connected network of woodlands throughout Wales. This will bring social, economic and environmental benefits.

It is possible that more areas of the Valley’s Regional Park could become part of the National Forest in the future if it meets the outcomes we desire. Further information on how woodlands can become part of the National Forest for Wales will be announced later this year.

Why is the emphasis on funding going to LAs rather than communities? Is there the ability to encourage LAs to hand over areas of land they don’t use to the Community and pilot working on community ownership?

The Woodland Investment Grant is open to all landowners and those with management control of land - where a formal legal agreement is in place between a Community group and a landowner (public or private) for example.  We support and encourage collaboration projects and community involvement.  The National Forest for Wales is a long term, multi-generational project.  It is hoped that over time, we will see quality woodlands across Wales which will be part of the National Forest for Wales. These will be woodlands for people to visit and enjoy, but also woodlands that provide economic benefits to the wider community.  We engage with local authorities and communities in Wales to drive forward these ambitions of the National Forest for Wales.

Is Glastir woodland creation a separate grant scheme to this?

Yes it is

Is the Community woodlands grant still available

Yes, https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/community-woodlands

Will this webinar recording be available after the event?

Yes: The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) presentation/cyflwyniad Grant Buddsoddi Mewn Coetiroedd (TWIG). - YouTube

Can you provide a link to the Woodland Opportunities Map?

http://lle.gov.wales/apps/woodlandopportunities/

Useful links / further information

TWIG guidance: https://gov.wales/national-forest-for-wales-the-woodland-investment-grant

Recording of TWIG presentation event: The Woodland Investment Grant (TWIG) presentation/cyflwyniad Grant Buddsoddi Mewn Coetiroedd (TWIG). - YouTube

How to register with Rural Pavements Wales: RPW Online: how to register | GOV.WALES

National Forest for Wales sites: National Forest for Wales: woodland sites | GOV.WALESWhy the National Forest for Wales exemplar sites were chosen: National Forest for Wales Exemplar Sites

Welsh Government Woodland Estate sites managed by Natural Resources Wales: Natural Resources Wales / Places to visit

The National Forest for Wales YouTube playlist for event recordings and promotional material: The National Forest / Coedwig Genedlaethol - YouTube

Woodland Opportunities Map: http://lle.gov.wales/apps/woodlandopportunities/

TWIG-grant-rules-booklet

The Community Woodland Fund information: https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/community-woodlands

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