The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) is open for new applications, there is no application deadline, but it takes three to five months from submitting a valid and complete application to an agreement being offered. Therefore, the planting year 2023-2024 is no longer available to new applications, the only available planting year is 2024-2025. Applications are assessed year-round, if you want to plant trees in 2024-2025 your application needs to be submitted no later than 11.59pm on 30 June 2024. To apply for UTCF applicants will need to register with Rural Payments to obtain a Single Business Identifier (SBI).
The fund provides 80% of published standard costs for the planting and establishment of trees in urban and peri-urban areas. In 2023 payments for trial pits were introduced to check for the presence of services. The remaining costs of planting and establishing trees supported under the UTCF must be met through match funding, either in the form of money or labour. Applications received from 1 July 2023 onward can only schedule tree planting to take place in 2024-2025, the last year of the fund. There is a minimum application value of 10,000.
The UTCF is a competitive fund, and your application will be scored. The scoring threshold is 100 points, your application must be equal to or above this score in order to be accepted.
Find out if youre eligible
Who can apply?
Anyone can apply for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), if you either have full management control over the land or signed consent from those with management control over the land for the duration of the Agreement. Agents are also able to apply on behalf of an organisation or landowner. Any individual or organisation can submit one application to UTCF in a single financial year. Multiple applications from the same applicant will be ranked and scored independently from one another.
Where the applicant does not have full management control over the land in the application (for example, the applicant is a tenant, trustee, joint owner or representative of a group of adjoining owners), we will require written permission from all parties with management control over the land before an agreement can be issued. This should come in the form of countersignatures on the application form.
Land submitted in an UTCF application does not need to be registered on the Rural Land Register, but applicants will need to register with Rural Payments to obtain a Single Business Identifier (SBI) and a Customer Reference Number (CRN). This must be provided on the application form.
Land included in a UTCF application must fall within an urban area. An urban area, as defined for the purposes of the UTCF, is a built-up area (based on Office of National Statistics data) with a population of at least 2,000 people, and a buffer of 1km to account for peri-urban planting. This can be identified on the Forestry Commission map browser using the UTCF Trees Close to People layer located in the Targeting and Scoring list of map layers. You must confirm in your application that your land falls entirely within this map layer.
The Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot has been extended to include UTCF to address risks to our biosecurity.
From 1 July 2023 onward applicants for UTCF must commit to sourcing their trees from suppliers who are either certified under the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme(or have applied to become certified) or who have passed aReady to Plant assessment provided by Fera Science Ltd.Further information is available in the grant manual, failure to adhere to the procurement requirement may result in a reduction in the payment of your claim.
This requirement helps to combat the threats posed by pests and diseases, as well as strengthening our biosecurity and serving our long-term vision for our trees and woodlands. Find information and support on how to comply in our guide: Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot for Plants and Trees.
How to apply
The Urban Tree Challenge Fund is open for applications. If you want to plant trees in 2024 to 2025 your application needs to be submitted no later than 11:59pm on 30 June 2024.
Submit an application
To apply for UTCF you will need to follow these steps:
Read the UTCF grant manual and grant funding agreement (terms and conditions) on the Urban Tree Challenge Fund application form round 6 page to find out if youre eligible and to decide whether you wish to apply.
You must register with Rural Payments to get a Single Business Identifier (SBI) and Customer Reference Number (CRN) before you can apply.
You must not undertake any planting or ground preparation detailed in your application form until you have a signed agreement with the Forestry Commission in place.
You must submit a map with your application, identifying the areas proposed for planting. Maps should be produced at a scale of 1:1,250. Where application areas are in more than one geographical area, a map for each will be required. For further information about mapping standards please refer to the Urban Tree Challenge Fund - grant manual, available on the Urban Tree Challenge Fund application form round 6 page.
Terms and conditions
Read the Urban Tree Challenge Fund Grant Funding Agreement (Terms and Conditions) available on the UTCF form page.
How it works
What is funded
The Urban Tree Challenge Fund provides 80% funding of standard costs (see Standard costs table below) for planting large trees and their establishment costs for 3 years following planting. The funding supports the cost of buying a tree, planting in grass or hard surfaces, the cost of basic protection and the labour required to plant it. In 2023 payments for trial pits were introduced to check for the presence of services. The number of trial pits that will receive funding is capped at 10% of the total number of trees in the application. For example, if you are applying to plant 100 trees you could also apply for 10 trial pits. Where trial pits are required these need to be listed in the application annex found on the UTCF application form page.
Establishment payments support the cost of weeding, watering and checking trees during multiple visits over a 3-year period.
The funding rate shown in the standard costs table is the amount that will be paid per item, we will not make payments above these values, the full description of each item and information about the work that is required is set out in the grant manual.
Standard costs table
|Supply and plant a tree in grass
|Supply and plant a tree in hard surface
|Trial pit hard surface