Call for tree planting project proposals
As part of Maidstone Borough Council’s Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan the Council is seeking to partner with local landowners in Maidstone Borough to conduct tree planting projects.
Planting trees and increasing woodland cover is a powerful solution to combating climate change and mitigating increasing global temperatures. Tree planting comes with numerous side benefits including, increasing biodiversity, reducing soil degradation and increasing water retention, reducing temperature rise and providing natural flood management if planted in the right places. Trees also have a significant positive impact on our wellbeing and health.
Maidstone Borough Council and our members recognise the need and benefits that tree planting in the borough will bring. MBC’s owned estate for large scale tree planting is limited, therefore the council is calling for public and private landowners to partner on tree planting projects across the borough.
The aim of Maidstone Borough Council’s tree planting project is to increase tree cover across the borough whilst ensuring the right trees are planted, in the right place for the right reasons. In collaboration and with technical support from the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust, the Council are issuing a call for potential proposals for tree planting sites that would be suitable for tree planting projects. The Council along with the Trusts would then work with the landowner to ascertain the feasibility of the project, the best land use options, select tree species that would be appropriate, discern whether it is possible to create woodland corridors or enhance ancient woodlands, increase flood prevention through tree planting, and enhance natural habitats and increase biodiversity.
Examples of suitable land include:
- Low yield agricultural land seeking different land usage
- Agriculture land seeking dual usage or agroforestry diversification
- Agricultural field verges
- Local Wildlife Sites, Special Areas of Conservations, Hedgerows
- Disused land
- Open soil land
- Local nature reserves (without disturbing the ecological balance)
- Existing Woodland (without disturbing the ecological balance)
- Golf courses
- Hospital grounds
- Industrial estates
- Shops and office car parks
- Playing fields
- Development sites
- Green belt areas
- Flood risk prone areas
The council wants to support local landowners with tree planting projects to enhance environmental benefit to landowners, such as increasing biodiversity and diversify income alternatives to agricultural income, through for example establishing tree nurseries, agroforestry, or linkages to carbon capture schemes.
Maidstone Borough Council would either seek to directly support projects or offer support to landowners to link tree planting projects to initiatives and funding opportunities to increase profits, for example through the Woodland Trust MOREwoods project or the Government’s Woodland Carbon Guarantee scheme. The National Government scheme is seeking to encourage farmers and landowners to plant more trees and create new woodland in return for payments as those trees grow. It gives land managers in England the long-term financial income they need to invest in carbon sequestration - the process by which trees lock up and store carbon from the atmosphere. Participants will be offered the option to sell Woodland Carbon Units to the government over 35 years at a guaranteed price set by auction, providing new income for landowners who help businesses compensate for their carbon emissions.
Eligibility and financing
Increasing biodiversity and tree coverage in the borough is key to the Council’s Biodiversity and Climate Action Plan. For these reasons the council has set aside funds for tree planting projects. Subject to your proposal’s project parameters, feasibility and costs - the Council will subsidise, match funding or pay for tree planting projects.
The council must however ensure the cost effectiveness and greatest positive impact from its investment. Therefore, the following key eligibility criteria will be considered when receiving proposals for suitable land for tree planting:
- Projects that favour large scale planting of young trees, whippets and saplings will be prioritised.
- The council will need to ensure that tree planting is long term, and that new trees will be maintained.
- If there are public rights of way in the proposed land, that the new trees will be adequately protected and safety to the public is considered.
- Priority will be given to proposals that match funds to be paid in proportion to funds available from the council.
- Land will not be considered if there are buildings, concrete and other large-scale obstacles to be removed.
- Larger areas of land for tree planting will be prioritised however a minimum of 1 acre or half hectare of land will be considered.
All proposals and land sizes will be mapped and kept on record for future biodiversity net gain and nature recovery initiatives being implemented by the National Government. This means that if the council cannot financially support your tree planting proposal in the first stage it will still be in consideration for future funding rounds and/or the council will support you to seek other funding opportunities.
A tree planting project proposal template has been included that includes key criteria and information needed to select winning project proposals.
Your proposals should be submitted thorough the online system. Should you have any questions about the form or proposal details please email the Council’s Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager.
Proposal assessment process
Proposals submitted to the council between 22 November 2021 to 21 January 2022, will be considered for implementation first. Any submission received after 21 January 2022 will be considered in a second phase of tree planting activities and kept on record for future phases of tree planting subject to funding.
Proposal will be assessed on the following parameters:
- Extent and suitability of land available for tree planting;
- Converging benefits, such as flood prevention, enhancing ancient woodland, the creation of biodiversity corridors and linkages to other existing woodlands, protecting existing habitats or conservation areas;
- Cost effectiveness and potential extent of carbon sequestered;
- Landownership and permissions; and
- Health and safety to the public and longevity of the trees.
Following successful acceptance of the proposal, the Council will meet with the landowner to discuss the project, permissions, establish a timeline, and seek clarification of the feasibility of the project, which may involve a separate entity conducting a feasibility studies of the proposed project.
As part of this process the proposed tree planting site will be investigated, the right species of trees will be sought, and the correct size of stock will be determined. If for whatever reason, the site is deemed unsuitable for tree planting, other options such as wildflower meadows and wetlands will also be considered and supported.
A tree planting plan and maintenance plan will be agreed upon, and final costs and timeline for tree planting set in accordance with the planting season.
A contract will be made and entered into with the landowner. Any national Government schemes entered into will be determined and cost/profit shares finalised.
Withdrawal or cancellation of project
The Council retain the right to withdraw or cancel tree planting projects if new information or evidence comes to light that tree planting on the proposed site raises safety concerns or is to the detriment of existing biodiversity and land use.
Additionally, ecological factors may mean that it is best not to plant trees. View the Tree planting guide from the Tree Council. Successful proposals must consider the following parameters:
- Is natural regeneration already taking place? If so, this may be preferable for wildlife.
- Is the site already valuable tree habitat, thickets and old orchards, which should normally be retained?
- Will trees shade out old grassland, streams or ponds, or damage heath, peat or very damp ground such as bogs (which should be left unplanted)?
- Are there good reasons for the site being treeless (e.g. it is heavily grazed, too exposed, thin or polluted soil, or waterlogged ground)?
Furthermore, suitability of land alone will not ensure the project proposal is accepted. The Council retain the right to halt projects that are not cost effective.
If you have any questions regarding the proposal template, or project details please email the Council's Biodiversity and Climate Change Manager, Climate & Biodiversity (MBC).