Senior staff from the Defra-led Common Agricultural Policy Delivery Programme, tasked with developing and introducing the new online application and payment service for all CAP schemes, called CAP Information Service, visited Forestry Commission England on 30 May to get a wider understanding of what the Forestry Commission does and how it currently implements the English Woodland Grant Scheme.
Discussions included looking at how use of a Land Information Search, either in preparing an application or once an application map has been submitted for a grant, contributes to getting the application decision right first time. The search is processed through the Forestry Commission’s internal mapping facility which runs it against all the datasets held about what is on the land, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ancient Woodland Sites and Scheduled Ancient Monuments. This then gives the woodland officer prior warning of areas of sensitivity for when he or she undertakes a site visit and processes the application.
A rainy visit in the afternoon to a woodland creation project illustrated how forestry schemes can be used to support several objectives on any one site. The woodland creation project was developed to integrate with the local heritage and landscape and welcome the public, as well as providing some open space for grazing and supporting the food chain of the horseshoe bat.
The CAP Delivery Programme is continuing to engage with the organisations which deliver the CAP, including the Forestry Commission, to ensure the new CAP Information Service is fit for purpose. This happens through a variety of means including their staff being part of the Programme team, their experts advising on specific topics and through membership of governance and topic-specific advisory groups, plus visits such as this one. Further visits are planned in the coming weeks, which we’ll report on here.