The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has allocated £1.2 million funding for domestic tree seed production.

The £1.2 million Seed Sourcing Grant will boost domestic tree seed production, create green jobs, help meet the increased demand for trees and achieve our ambitious net zero targets.

Most tree seed planted in the UK is of British origin, but evidence suggests that British seed sources may struggle to meet future demand across all species and there are known to be global shortages of tree seed.

The grant will boost domestic tree seed production and support green jobs, helping meet the increased demand for trees and achieve our ambitious tree planting targets.

The government has re-committed to its net zero targets, and new woodland and tree planting will contribute to those. The Seed Sourcing Grant will help to ensure the availability of planting stock to meet domestic tree planting needs. 

The chief executive of the Forestry Commission, Richard Stanford, said: “Seed sourcing is an essential part of tree production and one that can sometimes be overlooked. As planting rates increase, so too will the demand for tree seed.”

“This funding will give a vital boost to domestic tree seed production, helping to create diverse and thus resilient woodlands across our country.”

“This will both help meet our ambitious tree planting targets and ensure the resilience of woodlands so they can thrive in the uncertain future,” he said.

International Plant Health Conference

Today’s announcement comes as the world’s leading authorities on plant health and biosecurity came together for the world’s first ever International Plant Health Conference to address current and future plant health challenges.

Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said: “Plant health and biosecurity are fundamental to life on Earth and ensuring their continued health and vitality will be critical to a thriving natural environment for future generations.

“By increasing and diversifying England’s seed supply, this grant is crucial to help lower the risk of importing harmful pest and diseases by reducing the need to buy seed internationally and will create diverse and resilient woodlands which will be better adapted to future threats,” she said.

Eligible activities for the grant

  • Management of existing seed stands – the groups of trees in the landscape from which seed is collected – to ensure they are productive for seed collectors.
  • Desk studies and field studies to identify and bring additional seed stands onto the National Register of Basic material.
  • Planning and planting of new seed stands.
  • Planning and planting of new seed orchards – which are planted using seed or clonal material from known parents outside of the natural landscape in an area convenient for seed collectors.
  • Some activities will take time to implement, and so multi-year funding will be available up until March 2025.