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Protecting the health of our trees and plants

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Payments to improve tree health












Our trees and plants are facing increasing threats from pests and disease.

2020 has been declared the International Year of Plant Health. It’s been a reminder that it’s more important than ever to protect the health of our trees and plants so that they can continue to deliver the benefits we all rely upon.

Healthy trees benefit everyone

Healthy trees help tackle the impacts of climate change, provide wildlife habitats, clean the air we breathe and produce the food we eat.

This video highlights the value of plant and tree health, and how protecting trees contributes to our society.

Did you know….

  • a 2018 Defra publication estimated that the value of England’s trees, woods and forests is £175 billion
  • according to Oxford University, plants and trees contribute £9 billion annually in social and economic value through things such as carbon sequestration, timber value and recreation use
  • there are over 1,000 threats listed on the UK Plant Health Risk Register, some of which are already here and established - for example Ash dieback is predicted to kill over 100 million trees in the UK at an estimated cost of £15bn in lost ecosystem services and clean-up costs

Developing future tree health schemes

We are designing a future tree health scheme that will replace and expand the existing Countryside Stewardship Woodland Tree Health grants.

The objective of the new scheme is to build the resilience of England's trees, woods and forests and enhance the benefits trees provide for future generations. This will also help us to deliver the government’s Tree Health Resilience Strategy.

Our aim is to mitigate and minimise the impact of pests and diseases and improve the capacity of our trees to adapt to changing pressures. To support these ambitious aims, the future tree health scheme seeks to provide financial help for:

  • felling and treatment of diseased trees to slow the spread and protect the wider treescape
  • restocking woodland and trees for resilience following a pest and disease outbreak to ensure that there is no net loss of tree cover
  • research and development for the promotion and availability of good quality planting stock of high genetic and species diversity, to improve the resilience of the future treescape and
  • local coordination/action groups to enable knowledge and information sharing and to improve biosecurity

Designing with the people affected

We are taking a co-design approach to developing our future scheme. That means working closely with managers and owners of trees, woodlands and forests, nurseries, the wider sector and Defra’s delivery bodies (for example, the Forestry Commission) from the early stages of development.

We undertook a social science research project called ‘Behaviours for a Resilient Treescape’ led by Forest Research, where we worked with land managers that have used the current Countryside Stewardship tree health grants and potential users of the future scheme.

This helped us spot gaps in support and advice and guidance, and we have used this information to shape the future scheme and hopefully, plug those gaps.

Next, we plan to do tests of specific elements of the new schemes such as payment rates and eligibility, with a range of land managers.

For more information you can email us at

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  1. Comment by Juliann posted on

    I didn't realise pests and disease was such a problem to forestry. It's great that there are movements to protect our nature. We are writing about this but from the deforestation and reforestation side and impact on climate change at

  2. Comment by Toby posted on

    Great to read that we’re taking these risks seriously and working with local partners to do so.

  3. Comment by Edward posted on

    Healthy trees help tackle the impacts of climate change it provide wildlife habitats, clean the air we breathe and produce the food which we eat

  4. Comment by Emma posted on

    Please would you share how areas not in the designated regions can get help. For example, the North East of England.


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