Woodland - The benefits of planting trees

Key information
  • If you’re a private landowner, then planting trees can have a host of economic benefits
  • Trees play a major role in preventing soil erosion
  • One mature oak tree can support up to 500 different species of UK wildlife

The UK is currently one of Europe’s least wooded countries and the need to change that has become a hot topic in recent years. Trees are a key tool in the fight against climate change, as providing an answer to the ecological emergency through the vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species.

But that’s not all trees can do — they have far-reaching benefits in keeping us healthy, strengthening the agriculture industry, and even boosting the economy. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the best reasons to consider planting trees on your land.

Environmental benefits


When talking through the reasons to plant trees, there’s only one place to start — climate change. As a tree grows, it takes in carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere in a process known as carbon sequestration. This harmful carbon dioxide is the most abundant of the greenhouse gases driving the current global climate crisis. The greenhouse gas emissions are not only absorbed, they stay locked within the trees whether they’re left standing or are felled for timber.

The entire woodland ecosystem contributes to this carbon storage, leaves, roots, dead wood and the soil itself all play a role in staving off the climate emergency. According to the Woodland Trust, one hectare of young wood can store more than 400 tonnes of carbon — about the same as that produced by a single flight from London to Istanbul.

But carbon offsetting and combatting the use of fossil fuels isn’t the only way woodland creation projects can help the environment. Trees play a major role in preventing soil erosion, as their roots improve water quality by helping water drain properly. This in turn stops pollutants from being washed into water sources and provides flood mitigation. In fact, the value of UK trees as flood water protection has been estimated at £6.5 billion.

Woodland Creation Grants

One of the financial incentives offered by the government to English land owners, land managers and public bodies is the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO). Through this scheme, landowners can receive money for woodland creation that can reach £10,000 per hectare in extra income. The England Woodland Creation Offer is one of many Forestry Commission grants for tree planting to ease the costs of woodland creation. To qualify for the EWCO the land must:

  • Be in England.
  • Be within full control of the applicant (or, where applicable, any counter-signatories).
  • Not already be classified as woodland
  • Not be subject to any existing legal requirement to create woodland.
  • Not currently within an existing grant agreement that has more than five months left to run at the time the EWCO application is submitted (if the land or part of it is in an Environmental Stewardship agreement it may be possible to transfer the land into EWCO as long as certain conditions are met).

To begin your application for the EWCO contact your local Woodland Creation Planning Officer for specialist advice on the type of grant you may be given from the nature for climate fund.

Tree planting schemes in Wales also offer financial incentives. Visit natural resources Wales to find out how they differ from the forestry England scheme.

Protecting wildlife


Tree planting does not only limit the effects of climate change in the UK, ancient woodland acts as a network of habitats supporting more species than any other wildlife habitat. But the decrease in woodland cover and woodland habitats means one in ten of those species are at risk of extinction, animals living within trees are not the only species impacted, many species living in the surrounding forest floor lose their habitats when their natural ecosystems are disturbed by trees felling. This is bad news for us as well, as those species include pollinating birds and insects that are essential to agriculture.

One of the benefits of woodland creation is a little can go a long way to improving things here. One mature oak tree can support up to 500 different species of UK wildlife. So you don’t have to plant hectares of trees to do your bit for biodiversity, planting just a single tree can go a long way for woodland habitats.

Economic benefits

Planting trees

If you’re a private landowner, then planting trees can have a host of economic benefits.

First, harvesting your own woodfuel timber from individual trees can help keep your heating costs down while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Second, the sale of timber to the construction industry. The demand for quality timber for construction has increased in recent years, as its manufacture produces far fewer carbon emissions than materials like steel or concrete.

Tree planting can also benefit property developers. As well as offsetting some of the carbon emissions from the development, it’s well-known that trees and woodland can lift the market value of nearby residential properties. Similarly, green spaces have been seen to attract trade and investment to towns and business districts.

An asset for farmland

Grazing land

If you’re a land manager, giving up field space and grazing land to plant trees might seem to fly in the face of farm productivity. But in fact, cultivating trees has been shown to have substantial benefits for agricultural land, and can be an exciting opportunity, particularly on unproductive arable land.

For starters, the work farm woodlands do in preventing soil erosion will pay dividends by reducing flood risk to fields by providing natural flood management, and creating better quality soil for crops. A well-placed shelter belt can also protect crops as a windbreak.

Trees on grazing land are also popular with land managers on field edges and field corners as they can provide shelter for livestock in extreme weather since they provide both shade from the sun and a barrier to cold winds. For example, studies have shown that shelter from trees can help reduce lamb deaths from hypothermia and exposure by up to 30%.

Having trees on site can also be a great resource, providing you with a handy supply of timber for fencing, fuel, wood chip for animal bedding and for building livestock units.

Health and wellbeing

Walking in the woods

Woodland is often planted for the benefit of people with its renowned social benefits. Forest research has shown that being surrounded by trees even for a short time can trigger a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, reducing anxiety, stress and mental fatigue. In Japan this phenomenon is embraced through the practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”. Use Addland's research tool to find the nearest, public rights of way, ancient woodland and national parks.

Trees are also beneficial for physical health, too. Woodlands can of course be great places for encouraging exercise and fresh air. But perhaps more importantly, trees remove harmful pollutants like ammonia and carbon monoxide from the air, which greatly improves air quality.

What’s more, community woodlands also provide excellent places for children to play, experience the outdoors, and learn about nature through Forest Schools.

From helping in the battle against climate change, to protecting biodiversity, to creating a healthier environment to live in, planting trees has a huge range of benefits. Addland makes it easy to find, research, buy or sell land, so if you’re looking to buy woodland or land for planting, simply search our site.

Published: 18 May 2021
Last updated: 23 May 2023

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