Introducing the EWCO Checker Tool: A case study with Nicholsons 

To coincide with the release of the EWCO Checker Tool in partnership with the Forestry Commission, we caught up with the team at Nicholsons - a family business offering environmental and ecological consultancy services along with garden and woodland design - to learn what they’re loving about the new tool, the opportunities presented by the England Woodland Creation Offer and how it's helping to support landowners and farmers to plant woodlands on their less productive land. 

For those new to the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), it is a UK government scheme aimed at supporting landowners, foresters and farmers to create woodland in England, or improve the management of existing areas. It is structured to become part of the Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs) by 2025. By offering financial support for woodland creation, the aim is to bolster the amount of trees planted across England, whilst ensuring landowners and farmers can remain financially resilient in the process. 

Asked how EWCO is providing an opportunity for their clients, Nicholsons replied:

“EWCO provides landowners with a great opportunity to plant woodlands, through generous grant funding for a wide variety of woodland habitats. As well as a lower minimum application area than previous grant schemes, there are also many more funding option types, such as capital items and additional contributions. With a national need for creating additional habitats and managing existing landscapes, the inclusion of a variety of management capital items is a huge step forward, particularly in relation to deer and invasive species.”

Supporting land managers to access funding for sustainable practices is central to Land App’s mission, and our new EWCO Checker Tool is no exception. As Nicholsons have found, the tool offers a wide range of uses. “The ability to assess your whole holding for woodland creation potential, generate a report and a map of all available areas is so incredibly useful. The tool automatically buffers out unavailable or sensitive areas, such as Scheduled Monuments, as well buffering areas around existing woodland that are suitable for Natural Colonisation.”

Once users have generated a woodland creation report and assessed availability, the next phase of planning and mapping a project is smooth-sailing: “The mapping tools available are simple yet effective for users to design a new woodland, based on the EWCO Checker data. Users can accurately draw plans using their RLR ownership boundary lines to guide them; using the Woodland Creation template, you can plot areas as certain habitat types, as well as capital items available through EWCO, such as vehicle gates and fencing. As users of ArcGIS to create woodland creation maps, it is great to see how well Land App works with such external software and vice versa.”

A Nicholsons Project Site

The EWCO Checker is designed for everyone, whether you’re an individual farmer, a public body, or a larger business supporting clients through their woodland creation journey. Nicholsons told us that, like Land App, “One of our main aims as a business is to support landowners and farmers”, in this case, to plant woodlands on their less productive land. The “ecosystem services” that stem from these woodland projects offer many benefits beyond just financial support for landowners. For example, woodlands in the lowlands have multiple benefits apart from just timber; biodiversity, flood alleviation, and air quality to name but a few. As a result, Nicholsons believes that EWCO “is one of the best grants schemes we have had for a while.” 

At Land App, we designed the EWCO Checker Tool with landowners and managers in mind; making the pre-application and planning process more intuitive, accessible, and with a higher chance of success. For Nicholsons, “the EWCO Checker Tool is an excellent way to load the land parcel into the tool and it gives an output of whether the area is eligible, what supplements could be available and therefore what grant it could achieve. It speeds up what was a slow, laborious – and not always accurate – manual process. This allows us to help potential applicants much quicker and more accurately.” 

An example output map from the EWCO checker tool

We hope that land managers, foresters, public bodies, and other businesses just like Nicholsons will find the EWCO Checker Tool helpful in their woodland creation journey. In the meantime, the team at Land App will continue to update and refine the tool to make it the best it can be. 

Want to learn more about EWCO and Land App? Visit our EWCO page here

Nicholsons LinkedIn: Click here

Questions for the team? Get in touch at 

The EWCO Checker Tool has been built in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Carbon Code, and is now available, for free in the Land App.  Currently, the tool is only applicable for land in England that is registered with an SBI number.


Growing up on a regenerative small holding, the relationship between food systems and the natural world has long been an interest of mine. Focusing on land-use tensions and geo-politics at Oxford, and now an MSc in Sustainable Development with Exeter, my interests lie in how we can leverage policy and natural capital principles to encourage not only regenerative land management and food systems alongside investment in nature recovery, but ultimately how we can ensure social equity and systems resilience. I’m drawn to the social elements of nature recovery and climate change adaptation, in particular the intersection of geopolitics, biodiversity economics and justice.
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