Swinton Estate has successfully secured funding from the Natural Environment Readiness Fund (NEIRF) to design an integrated woodland enterprise delivering both commercial and environmental benefits.
The grant will be used to increase the Estate’s woodland by half, from 700 hectares to 1050 hectares, in the next 20 years. Using an innovative new business model, revenue will be generated from the sale of ecosystem services produced by the new woodland, including carbon, biodiversity units, water management and recreation opportunities.
Mark Cunliffe-Lister, Proprietor of Swinton Estate and Chair of the CLA Forestry and Woodlands Committee said,
‘We are delighted that our funding bid for this ambitious project has been successful. We have set ourselves this goal, of increasing our woodlands by 350 hectares, because we know the environmental gains that woodland delivers, but to achieve it we need a strong business model to ensure that woodland creation and management is sustainable for the long term. The NEIRF grant will enable Swinton Estate to deliver valuable environmental benefits for years to come.’
Holly Story, Senior Environmental Management Consultant at GSC Grays, who helped the Estate design the application explains,
‘With the NEIRF funding, we hope to demonstrate that planting and management for conservation can be integrated with commercial interests. Our aim is to generate income on a par with or exceeding that that would be achieved from the sale of timber alone, creating an innovative new business model for forestry that can be replicated across the country.’
The NEIRF, run by the Environment Agency, aims to stimulate private investment and market based mechanisms that improve and safeguard the domestic natural environment.