Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier support is competitive and all applications will be scored on value for money and how well they would serve Biodiversity and Water priorities. These remain unchanged from 2016 and, for Woodland Improvement, include:
Priority Habitats
Priority Species
Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAW’s) Restoration
Water Quality
The Land Information Search (LIS) will help determine whether your woodland lies within one or more of these priority areas.
Eligibility Requirements
There are a number of specific eligibility requirements for Higher Tier. If an applicant already has an Environmental Stewardship agreement covering some of their land they cannot apply for Countryside Stewardship options or capital items on the same land parcels.  Also, Countryside Stewardship options cannot be located within land parcels covered by some English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) agreements. 
You must have a Forestry Commission approved UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant Woodland Management Plan to be eligible to apply for Higher Tier Woodland Improvement. If you do not currently have an approved plan, consider using Countryside Stewardship support (via the Woodland Management Plan capital grant) to put one in place – so that you will be ready to apply for support for Woodland Improvement in 2018.