The Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) will be the post Brexit grant in England that replaces the Countryside Stewardship scheme. This study is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Tests and Trials programme.  

During the trial period funded by Defra until the end of 2021, Small Woods will investigate ways to bring more small woods back into management and what will enable more small woods to benefit from the ELM grant scheme. In our final report we will also consider if other incentives and advisory services are needed to support the creation and management of small woods. The intention is to include a wider range of landowners and managers in the new scheme.

We are trialing this research in seven regions of England, with coordinators and local groups in their areas:

  • Cotswolds AONB.
  • Cumbria –Eden Valley.
  • Eastern Claylands Treescapes, Suffolk
  • Marches –Herefordshire and Shropshire.
  • NE Devon – Biosphere Area, plus Exmoor
  • SW Peak & Churnet Valley.
  • SE – Surrey Hills AONB, plus the Weald AONB

Small Woods plans to produce a questionnaire in the autumn of 2020 to find out what incentives are likely to help encourage both small woodland management and woodland creation in these core regions. The study will focus on woodland ownership of under 20 hectares. We also hope to gather responses from woodland owners and managers in other areas, as this can help shape the future incentives. We will work with the Forestry Commission and many other partners to gather information and develop ideas.

Small Woods want to know what currently works well and what should be changed or needs to be improved. The scope of the work includes woodland management plans, biodiversity improvements, landscape improvements, resilience to climate change, reducing flooding and improving water quality, and more.

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