Guidance: Routes to market for ash timber Innovation Fund

Forestry Commission

December 8
15:47 2023

The fund is currently closed for applications.

Invitation to apply

Find out about the Woods into Management Routes to Market for Ash Timber Innovation Fund and how you can compete for funding to help restore woodlands suffering from ash dieback.

About the Innovation Fund

The aim of Woods into Management (WiM), as part of governments Nature for Climate Fund, is to encourage and broaden innovation in forestry that results in improved ecological condition of existing woodlands and the role they play in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Ash dieback is expected to cause millions of our ash trees to die over the next 10-20 years. Using a proportion of the wood from infected trees could help owners offset the cost of managing ash dieback and has the potential to displace carbon intensive material and fossil fuels. It will also provide owners with opportunities to improve woodland habitats and increase resilience to climate change, pests and disease. This management, combined with suitable natural regeneration or restocking, will help ensure woodlands suffering from ash dieback continue to sequester carbon and provide public benefits in the long term.

One of the key issues that has been identified that particularly affects the management of native woodland is the very fragmented ownership pattern of this habitat. All woodland in England has been managed to produce timber and firewood in the past and this has shaped the habitats and biodiversity valued by society. Today, many owners have no easy way of bringing wood to market and this hampers efforts to manage diseases, maintain and improve habitat condition. At the same time, the UK remains the second largest timber importer in the world, sourcing 80% of the timber it consumes from overseas.

To help address these issues the Forestry Commission is launching an innovation fund to which applications are invited. Through the fund, the Forestry Commission is looking to support projects developing innovative routes to market for ash timber. Projects should target novel ways in which woodland habitats can be restored, with an initial emphasis on ash, using market pull to offset woodland management costs and increase the volume of home-grown timber used by British businesses and consumers. The innovation can be at the global level, i.e., completely novel (but of direct relevance to England), or it can be innovative to England by seeking to apply approaches used elsewhere in the world.

Applicants are invited to submit single year projects due to complete by March 2024, or two-year proposals scheduled to complete no later than March 2025. Proposals can be costed at up to a maximum of 100K per year and we would encourage applications for projects that result in:

  • restored woodland SSSI containing ash
  • restored Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites that are currently stocked with ash
  • more native woodlands covered by long term, UK Forestry Standard compliant, woodland management plans focused on habitat improvement and maintenance of carbon stocks
  • more native woodlands containing suitable species and provenances tolerant to climate change, ensuring long term carbon sequestration potential is maintained or improved
  • reducing the risk of falling ash trees injuring people and damaging property e.g. ash trees next to roads, public rights of way and buildings
  • supply chains able to support the management and improvement of native woodlands in the long term

We are particularly interested in projects that develop collaborative working amongst forestry businesses, conservation bodies and private woodland owners. Projects may incorporate an element of original research but must include some practical application.

What funding is available?

In 2023, up to 1.7million will be made available through the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds to support innovative project work. Proposals, whether single or multi-year, must have a minimum total cost of 20K to be eligible for funding. Projects may be costed at up to a maximum of 100K in any given financial year.

Eligible costs that may be claimed will include:

  • personnel costs related to researchers, and other supporting staff to the extent employed on the project
  • costs of equipment for the period of the project. Where such equipment is not used for their full life only the depreciation costs corresponding to the life of the project shall be eligible
  • costs of contractual research, knowledge and patents bought or licensed from outside sources at arms-length conditions, as well as costs of consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the project
  • operating expenses, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, incurred directly as a result of the project
  • travel and subsistence essential to the delivery of WiM Forestry Innovation Fund (FIF) grant activities, carried out in the most economically and sustainable way possible

The following expenditure is ineligible:

  • costs or overheads such as rent, and utilities apportioned to those staff directly or indirectly employed on the project
  • costs incurred outside of the project delivery window
  • costs involved in preparing your application

Is my project eligible?

Projects can be single year with output(s) that will be fully developed by 27 March 2024 or two-year proposals set to run for up to two financial years, ending 27 March 2025. Applicants submitting proposals spanning two financial years should state this on the application form and clearly outline the activities, milestones and outputs that will be delivered by the end of each financial year. Multi-year agreements will be subject to an annual performance monitoring review by the Forestry Commission. Where applicants are failing to deliver against agreed outputs and objectives, or it becomes clear that avenues of research are no longer worth pursuing, multi-year agreements may be terminated at the discretion of the Forestry Commission.

Work must be of direct relevance to means by which woodland habitats can be restored, with an initial emphasis on ash, using market pull to offset woodland management costs and increase the volume of home-grown timber used by British businesses and consumers.

To be eligible for funding the:

  • project must look at innovative approaches not currently used in forestry in England
  • project must be limited to pre-commercial activity
  • lead partner must be a UK based business, sole trader, organisation, or research organisation
  • majority of any project work must be undertaken in England

All eligibility criteria are fully described in the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds Application Form.

How do I apply?

The fund is currently closed for applications.

Complete the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds application form and accompanying finance spreadsheet. Guidance for applicants is available on the application form page to help you complete you application.

Applications closed on 15 May 2023.

The Forestry Commission will be hosted a Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds How to Apply webinar event at 2pm on Monday 3 April. If you missed the webinar you can watch again.

A single stage application process will be followed.

Applications must be written in English, (without alterations to layout or format). Send your completed application and accompanying finance spreadsheet to Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

In the application form you will be asked to provide details about:

  • what the project aims to achieve and how it fits within the scope of the fund
  • the approach you will take and where the focus of the innovation will be
  • who is in the project team and what their roles are, including details of partner organisations
  • the impact that the project might have outside of the project team
  • how the project will be managed effectively
  • the main risks for the project
  • the impact that an injection of public funding would have on the project
  • the cost of the project and how it represents value for money for the project team and for the taxpayer
  • the activities to be funded and outputs/outcomes expected

All costs and financial details should be in Sterling.

All questions in the application form are mandatory and you must submit a finance spreadsheet as part of your application. If any part of your application is incomplete, your application will be returned to you within two working days for you to revise and resubmit before the deadline should you wish. If any part of your application is unclear, the Fo

Related Articles


  1. We don't have any comments for this article yet. Why not join in and start a discussion.

Write a Comment

Your name:
Your email:

Post my comment

Recent Comments

Follow Us on Twitter

Share This

Enjoyed this? Why not share it with others if you've found it useful by using one of the tools below: