CUMBRIAN farmers can take advantage of grants available to help them take action against tree pests and diseases which attack trees, woods and forest.

Owners and managers of trees and woodlands in England are being encouraged to take part in the pilot of the Tree Health Scheme which starts in August.

Measures will include biosecure felling and treatment of diseased or infested trees. The scheme will also support the restocking and maintenance of newly re-planted trees following a pest or disease outbreak.

Plants and trees deliver £10.5 billion per year in social, environmental and economic benefits, so reducing pest and disease risks is crucial to protecting these vital national assets.

The pilot will last for three years and, following scrupulous testing and final revisions, the new scheme will fully roll out in 2024. Details of the pilot will be published in the summer ahead of applications opening at the end of August 2021.

It will work alongside landmark plans for a renewed agricultural sector which includes new schemes to reward farmers and land managers for producing public goods such as better air and water quality, thriving wildlife, soil health, or measures to reduce flooding and tackle the effects of climate change.

As set out in the Agricultural Transition Plan, the new Tree Health Scheme will expand upon the current support available via the Countryside Stewardship Tree Health grants.

Prof Nicola Spence, the UK’s Chief Plant Health Officer, said the pilot will include woodland owners and land managers and be trialled in areas including the North West.