The Impact of Common Agricultural Policy Reform on UK Agriculture

Written evidence submitted by the Woodland Trust (CAP 05)


1. The Woodland Trust is the UK's leading woodland conservation charity. We have three aims: to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees; to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future; and to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees. We own over 1,000 sites, 20,000 ha, of which 20% is farmed. We have 300,000 members and supporters.


2. The Woodland Trust welcomes the opportunity to submit written evidence to this inquiry.

3. The CAP remains the largest factor in agricultural land-use in the UK and therefore a key issue for woodland conservation. Increased tree cover is recognised as a means of mitigating climate change as well as having a number of benefits for agriculture and agricultural adaptation to future climate changes in addition to delivering a wide range of benefits to society [1] , [2] .

4. Current delivery mechanisms for the CAP work against the aim to increase tree cover: the eligible land requirements under the Single Payment Scheme, the lower rates of payment for those involved in agriculture as opposed to forestry and the cultural separation that has occurred over the many years of the CAP.

5. We wish to see a fundamental reform to the role and place of trees within the agricultural landscape.

6. We welcome the potential flexibility of Option 2 within the CAP reform proposals and the increased use of more locally determined schemes

7. Without more information on the size and distribution of the budget it is difficult to predict how these reforms will affect the UK landscape.

Reform Proposals

8. Aims for the reforms are given as viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and climate change and balanced territorial development. Our concerns remain with the balance between the first two aims and thus the balance and details of the two separate pillars of the CAP.

9. We would wish to see a more integrated land-use policy that views forests and trees as an integral part of all landscapes and thus an integral part of policy and strategy decision-making.


10. The UK is atypical in respect of forest cover when compared with other Member States , having a limited and fragmented resource with just 11.7% woodland cover compared to an average of 37% for the EU.

11. Council regulation 1698/2005 clearly states: "Forestry is an integral part of rural development and support for sustainable land use should encompass the sustainable management of forests and their multifunctional role." And yet the majority of rural development funding is still used on agricultural lands; continuing and exacerbating the artificial separation of land-uses, and denying the potential benefit to the environment of a more integrated land use policy.

12. Climate resilience models have suggested planting rates of 20,000ha a year or more may be necessary [3] , however planting rates in the UK have fallen by more than half in the last six years from 11,900ha pa to 5,000 ha in 2010 and are now lower than at any time since the mid-1970s. To reach the desired targets for woodland creation will require a fundamental shift in outlook about the role and place of forestry and other wooded land within the landscape.

13. The UK and other poorly-wooded countries are less well placed to take advantage of the many benefits that woodland creation offers in terms of mitigation and adaptation and will need considerable support in order to achieve a wooded landscape that is climate resilient.

Options for reform

14. The reform proposals are presented in strategic terms rather than providing information for detailed analysis, which is a concern when the Commission have already identified that they will produce legislative proposals by June 2011.

Pillar 1 Direct Payments

15. Grazed woodland with fewer than 50 trees per hectare within a Rural Development Plan scheme is classed as agricultural land and therefore must meet the requirements of cross-compliance and yet does not automatically receive money under the Single Payment Scheme.

16. Even when grazed woodland does receive payment, any in-field trees must be individually measured and the area occupied by them removed from the claim [4] . This is counter-productive to some of the agri-environment schemes offered and to good husbandry practice for livestock and crops, where the addition of trees can increase survival rates of young stock and increase available days for spraying amongst other benefits1,2.

17. We would like to see any land with fewer than 50 trees per hectare included within the Single Payment Scheme and full payment paid without the requirement to exclude the area occupied by trees.

18. This would simplify the scheme and remove some of the barriers to tree planting on agricultural land

Greening Pillar 1

19. We welcome the option of an additional aid for greening public goods. Simple measures which could also be transferred to this section include the requirement to transfer at least 50% of all non-roadside hedges to a cutting regime of no more than once every two years, or the use of 2m buffer zones around all existing semi-natural habitats.

20. Without further specific details it is difficult to judge whether the balance on productivity versus sustainability has been met.

Pillar 2

21. Pillar 2 remains the junior partner within CAP with less than 10% of the total budget, but aims to deliver many of the key EU aims including biodiversity, climate change mitigation and innovation. Explicit reference to EU-agreed Nagoya biodiversity targets would more clearly indicate commitment to environmental enhancement.

22. The reform options for rural development suggest adjustment to better align with EU priorities, with climate change as one of the key targets. It is difficult to see how the UK can deliver on this aim without delivering more trees. Furthermore, without fundamental reform of Pillar 1 payments, above, there will be limited opportunities to tackle our climate change obligations.

Options for more locally-led rural development schemes, in the style of Leader, could offer the UK a valuable opportunity to address the different conditions within each country, eg England’s south-west uplands versus northern uplands.

December 2010

[1] 1 Sudmeyer, R., Hall, D. and Jones, H., The effect of tree windbreaks on grain yield in the medium and low rainfall areas in Western Australia , Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, downloaded at:


[2] Bird, P.R. (1988) Financial gains of trees on farms through shelter , the international forestry conference for the Australian Bicentenary 1988. Proceedings of papers contributed Volume II of V. Albury-Wodonga 25th April-1st May 1988


[3] Read, D.J., Freer-Smith, P.H, Morison, J.I.L., Hanley, N., West, C.C. and Snowdon, P. (eds) (2009) Combating climate change - a role for UK Forests. An assessment of the potential of the UK's trees and woodlands to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh


[4] Rural Payments Agency (2010) Single Payments Scheme Handbook for England 2010$FILE/ATTUW7IN/SPS%20Handbook%202010%20V2.0%20WEB%20Mar.pdf