Tree Planting Grants: Can I Get a Grant to Plant Trees?

The planet needs more trees. Specifically, your local environment needs more native trees! You might be considering planting one or many trees in your yard or garden, on your farm, around your neighborhood, or even at a local school, but as trees can be expensive, you might be wondering if you can get a grant to plant trees. Tree planting grants are often available; we’ll look into some of the details here.

What are Tree Planting Grants?

A tree planting grant in its simplest form is a sum of money granted to an individual or organization for the purchase of trees and associated equipment: sometimes they include funding for stakes to hold the saplings upright, netting / fencing to protect them from grazing animals, etc. In general, tree planting grants may be obtained from federal, state, or local governments and from tree, woodland, and conversation charities.

Tree Planting Grants
Photo by Shameer Pk at Pixabay

Can I Get a Free Tree?

Forming a sort of subset of tree grants are free tree schemes / initiatives. These don’t involve the planter getting money to plant trees, but rather, someone wishing to plant trees would receive the trees themselves. These sorts of projects can be run by charities. For example, the Woodland Trust in the UK will send packs of free trees to schools and community groups. The National Wildlife Federation in the US has a similar scheme.

Pine Seedling Covered in Icy Snow
Photo by jggrz at Pixabay

There also exist initiatives whereby you can get free trees by joining a conservation organization. The Arbor Day Foundation in the US offers new members ten free trees when they join. This scheme allows new subscribers to choose from ten trees best suited to their location for them to plant themselves, ten trees to be planted by conservationists in America’s forests, or ten trees to be planted by conservationists in a threatened rainforest. You can give as little as $10 to become a member, so you’d only be paying $1 per tree. (If you can afford more though, remember that tree charities need your help!)

Free tree offers are sometimes run in conjunction with Earth Day (April 22 each year) or local community events year-round, so it’s always worth asking in your local area.

You might also be able to find trees offered for free on websites or in classifieds magazines that sell/give away second-hand or used items. People often give away trees when they have too many or are moving house. Try Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree, craigslist … leboncoin in France … sites like this exist in most places, so search for your local one and see what you can find.

And you could always grow trees yourself! An autumn walk in the woodland, along a hedgerow, or even in a local park will yield lots of acorns, chestnuts, hazelnuts, beechnuts, samaras (maple and sycamore “helicopters”), etc. It might take a little while and require a little research, but growing your own trees from seed is an amazingly rewarding experience.

Chestnuts by Kira Nash
Chestnuts by Kira Nash at kiakari

What Grants are Available for Tree Planting?

In many ways, what grants you can find to plant in your local area depends on your local area. Each area has its own environmental needs (and crises, all too often), so the tree planting grants and initiatives vary depending on the country, state, or local municipality in question.

Forestry grants are often available for those wishing to start their own forests or augment existing forested land. These offer the trees best suited to the land in question. For example, in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine issues woodland and forestry grants that cover a wide range of circumstances including a set-up grant (plus fencing allowance) and a maintenance grant to help you look after your woodland for the first four years after planting.

Similar schemes are available in a wide variety of countries from a federal to a local level. The best way to proceed in this case would be to speak with your local department of agriculture or forestry commission.

There are almost always grants available for schools, local communities, youth groups, and even individual young people (often under the age of 21) wishing to plant and nurture trees. In addition, there are regular tree-planting initiatives for farms and agricultural land, cities and semi-urban areas. Your local government office, agriculture bureau, or woodland conservation charity will have details of exactly what is available in your area and what you need to do to apply.

How do I Qualify for a Tree Planting Grant?

In general, you need either to be a part of a community-focused organization, live in an area with a strong need for trees, be in agriculture, or wish to start a woodland. But that covers a lot of people and circumstances! Every grant and every grant-giving organization have their own criteria for application and approval, so the best thing to do is to find a grant that applies to you and read the documentation. Or just ask your local representatives; they’re there to help.

If you’re wishing to plant trees in the developing world, there are grants available specifically for you. You can look at the Green Earth Appeal for one such project, check out trvst for a great list of 10 tree planting initiatives around the world, or do an internet search for a charity or NGO that covers your chosen area specifically.

Can I Get Paid to Plant Trees on my Land?

Sometimes! It depends on what you’d like the outcome to be. In general, to get paid for something, you have to offer something in return. There are multiple schemes that allow landowners to, in effect, lend their land to forestry businesses. These businesses will plant the trees, maintain the land, and then cut the trees down for their wood. While this can generate a fair amount of income, it’s not really for people wishing to plant trees and let them live!

Cut Tree Logs in a Pile
Photo by 5598375 at Pixabay

However, there are also new projects, aimed at encouraging conservation and biodiversity, that pay landowners to let trees grow — and grow and grow — on their land. These initiatives are usually run by national or state governments and are often linked to carbon sequestration and carbon units and credits.

Briefly, a carbon unit represents the quantifiable amount of carbon dioxide that trees take out of the atmosphere while they’re growing This carbon is considered to be sequestered in the tree during its lifetime. One carbon unit is roughly equivalent to one ton of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. These carbon units can be sold as carbon credits to governments, or to businesses looking to “offset” their carbon dioxide emissions. The price per carbon unit tends to be relatively fixed, often per year.

However, this process is fraught with practical and legislative difficulties. And while it might encourage more tree planting and make some extra money for those who give some land to woodland, it does nothing to address the very real need for industry to reduce its emissions rather than just pay to offset them. But I digress!

If you’re a landowner who would like to devote some of your land to forest, woodland, or just a grove of trees, it would absolutely be worth contacting your local or national forestry or agricultural authority. Also try tree and conversation charities that work in your country or region; they’ll probably know who can help you even if they can’t do it themselves.

Young seedling growing amoung fallen leaves
Photo by Hans Bijstra at Pixabay

Things to Consider for Tree Planting Grants

There are lots of options available to encourage and support those people who wish to plant trees, from the local to the national level and beyond. If you’re an individual without any affiliation to what you consider an eligible group, have a think and make sure you’re not overlooking something. Maybe your child’s school could apply for free trees, or your local faith group, library, or community organization could request a tree planting pack.

While tree planting grants are often available year-round, packs of free trees are often only sent out in early spring, because early spring is usually the best time for tree planting. Saplings are still dormant, there are no leaves to worry about yet, and they’re just about to get their big spring growth spurts. If they can go in the ground before that happens, it will give them the best chance to take root and grow well. Spring also often tends to be wet, and new trees need water.

Website and organizations that offer free trees normally tell you if their applications are currently open or closed; if they are closed, there will be a note of when they open again. The Arbor Day Foundation’s free trees with membership offer is available all year round as far as I’m aware, and of course you can find free trees in classified ads or second-hand listings at any time.

Setting sun through the tree trunks
Photo by Mandy Fontana at Pixabay

As with any tree planting project, make sure that you choose the right tree(s) for your situation. We have lots of information on all different aspects of tree planting here in our Tree Vitalize blog, and you can always ask the organization from which you get your trees for advice. They want your trees to succeed as much as you do!

Planting trees is a great activity for kids and adults alike. You’re contributing to making our world a better, healthier, and happier place, and you’re caring for another living being in the process. With a wide range of tree planting grants and opportunities available, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the one that works for you.

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