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EWCO: Changes to Environmental Stewardship agreements

Members should be aware of some recent amendments to Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements in relation to the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO). These amendments come after the collective work of Defra, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

See below an update from the Forestry Commission on these amendments.




Land managers can now transfer land from an Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement into the England Woodland Creation offer (EWCO) without the recovery of ES payments, subject to certain conditions.

The conditions are:

  1. The transfer of land into EWCO will result in a net improvement in environmental management on that land, compared to management under the existing ES agreement; and
  2. The ES agreement remains viable after transfer of the land and removal from the ES agreement


How will it work?

When we receive a EWCO application for land in an ES agreement we will arrange for the RPA to assess whether these conditions are met. The RPA will make this assessment with advice from Natural England.

Where the conditions are met, we will process the EWCO application and the applicant will need to apply to the RPA to amend the ES agreement (to remove affected parcels). The ES amendment will not be finalised until the EWCO application has been processed.

Where the EWCO application is successful, we will offer a EWCO Agreement in Principle. The applicant will then need to instruct the RPA to complete the amendment to allow the EWCO agreement to go live.

If you now wish to apply for EWCO on land in an ES agreement please submit a EWCO application, completing the forms and following the online guidance.

We will be contacting those customers directly impacted by this change.

For enquiries relating to EWCO or the process outlined above, please contact For enquiries relating to conditions (1) and (2), or the process of removing land from an ES agreement, please contact

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