A new £8.8 million fund to support domestic tree production in England has been opened by the Forestry Commission today (Thursday, May 19), in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The funding will help tree nurseries and suppliers invest in projects which improve, expand, automate or mechanise their operations.

This will support efforts to build nursery capacity and grow long-term tree seed and sapling supply – delivering on a commitment within the England Trees Action Plan, the government’s long-term plan for the nation’s trees, woodlands and forests.

Successful projects will be awarded up to £175,000 in grant funding to cover up to 50% of costs, with money coming from the Tree Production Capital Grant as part of the Government’s £750 million Nature for Climate Fund.

Example projects suitable for funding could include investments in machinery such as transplanting systems and grading machines, improved polytunnel infrastructure and irrigation systems, or in biosecurity through improved water treatment and refrigeration equipment.

The grant is open to tree seed and sapling suppliers of all sizes, as well as new entrants looking to diversify into the sector.

Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

"With demand for trees set to grow dramatically over the coming years as we pursue our ambitious tree planting targets, fostering a robust forestry industry is critical.

"Supporting the sector with this new funding will safeguard sapling supply chains, create new green jobs and help to realise our long-term vision for our trees and woodlands."