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Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF)

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Objectives of Fund

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) has been developed in response to the government’s commitment to provide £10 million for planting both large and small trees in and around England’s towns and cities. The initiative will support Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan, whilst also contributing to meeting the government’s commitment to plant one million urban trees by 2022.

Urban trees are said to offer a range of benefits, including temperature moderation, flood risk mitigation, and improved wellbeing – particularly when in close proximity to large populations. The UTCF will contribute to delivering these benefits through the targeted planting of at least 20,000 large trees and 110,000 small trees in urban and peri-urban areas.

The support is being offered on a competitive basis, targeting projects providing the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits to towns and cities across the country.

Match Funding Restrictions

Fund recipients should provide at least 50% match funding in the form of money or labour. Where labour is used as match funding, this must be converted into a monetary value to be included in the application. Applicants will be required to detail the sources of funding and their value obtained to confirm they have adequate funding to deliver the project.

Who Can Apply

Applications will be accepted from public bodies, community groups, charities and non-government organisations, individuals and private companies in England.

The applicant must have full management control over the land or signed consent from those with management control over the land. Agents are also able to apply on behalf of an organisation or landowner.

Land included in a UTCF application must fall within an urban area of England. 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, with a buffer of 1km to account for peri-urban planting.

In 2019/20, the UTCF is only open to applicants submitting a block bid for projects containing a number of single planting sites. Block bids can be geographically dispersed across England or focused in a local area.

In 2020/21, individual applications will be aimed at smaller organisations or community groups looking to deliver much smaller scale projects.


Urban areas of England


Grants cannot be used to support the planting of trees required under a planning consent or restocking condition or as part of a tenancy agreement. In addition, grants cannot be used to support the replacement of trees. Checks may be undertaken to confirm that trees have not been in a proposed project location for at least three years.

Eligible Expenditure

The UTCF provides capital funding to plant and establish trees that are an appropriate size for the setting in which they are planted; be it a street tree or a small community woodland.

Payments will contribute to the cost of weeding, watering and checking trees.

How To Apply

Those wishing to apply for year two should submit an Expression of Interest and return to [email protected]

Following the close of the application window, all applications will be reviewed, scored and ranked. These applications will then be assessed against each other to ensure they meet the objectives of the fund.

Capital payments for tree planting will be provided, followed by three years of establishment payments. The three years of establishment payments are paid in two lump sums. Payments for tree planting and the first year of establishment will be paid following receipt of a claim form following completion of the works in year one. The second instalment of establishment payments will be available two years later following the submission of a claim.

Scheme - Guidance Document

Useful Links

Addresses and contacts

For further information on how to obtain this grant locally, please contact the following:

  1. Enquiries
    Forestry Commission
    620 Bristol Business Park
    Coldharbour Lane
    BS16 1EJ
    Email: [email protected]


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