Exceptional demand has forced the Forestry Commission (FC) to close its Woodland Grant Scheme to new applicants ahead of schedule.

The FC said landowners are increasingly interested in planting trees and managing woodlands. FC director Paul Hill-Tout said: “The exceptional level of applications we have received, coupled with existing commitments, mean that we have reached the limits of funding available in 2004/5 and can achieve targets without the need for further applications.”

A new English Woodland Grant Scheme is expected to be introduced next year. Mr Hill-Tout said meetings will be held to explain the transition and added: “We will be providing an expanded advisory service through woodland officers who will be available to discuss with landowners how they may make use of the English Woodland Scheme as details become available.”