Community Forests: Government announce £44m increase in tree planting

The Government late last week announced a big boost to its plans to significantly increase the UK’s forest cover, confirming £44.2million has been awarded to projects expected to provide around 2,300 hectares of new trees – the equivalent of around 3,220 soccer fields.

The awards represent the latest £750 million in funding from the Nature for Climate Fund, which aims to expand areas of forest near towns, villages and rivers to improve public access to nature to reduce flood risk downstream reduce and expand natural carbon sinks in support of the UK’s net-zero emissions targets.

The Government said the latest funding is expected to provide enough trees to absorb 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, which would result in emissions savings and broader economic services worth nearly £100m.

“The investment will create larger, well-designed and more diverse forests that are more resilient to climate change, as well as natural hazards such as wildfires and storms, and play an important role in adapting to a warmer world,” the government said. “They will help reduce the risk of flooding in vulnerable areas, provide sustainable UK-grown timber and create more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive.”

All of England’s 13 Community Forests, including the Humber and Mersey Forests, as well as the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are also set to benefit from the funding.

“Our economy, our livelihoods and our well-being all depend on nature,” said Environment Secretary Lord Zac Goldsmith. “In addition to addressing the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse tree landscapes across the country and improve the health and well-being of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep. “

The new funding was also welcomed by Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, who said: “The social, environmental and economic benefits of being in forests are well documented, helping local communities live happier, healthier and more enjoyable places to live Life. It is a personal mission of mine to make sure that as many people as possible can enjoy these benefits. This funding will ensure that we plant trees in areas where people live and create jobs in creating new forests through tree planting, cultivation and management.”

Paul Nolan, chairman of England’s Community Forests, said the new tree planting would help increase access to nature for communities across England. “Over the past two years, English Community Forests have worked closely with Defra, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, over 70 local authorities and a variety of landowners to create more than 1,000 hectares of new woodland,” he said. “We look forward to continuing this joint effort and helping the country meet our net zero goal.”

Alongside the promotional awards, the government also announced a new tree and forest strategy toolkit for local authorities to be launched in September in partnership with the Tree Council, Fera, the Forest Commission and Forest Research, which will help build local capacity and improve forest management Plans for new trees and forests will contribute.

The announcement comes just days after the Government also launched a new £9million Leveling Up Parks Fund, which aims to create over 100 new or improved green spaces in deprived urban areas across the UK.

The latest funding follows recent criticism of the government’s tree planting schemes, with a number of reports warning that the UK is off track on meeting a host of environmental goals, including high-profile pledges to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and triple tree planting rates by 2030 at the end of this Parliament. A report by the National Audit Office earlier this year warned the government was falling sharply short of its 2021/22 tree planting targets and faced a major challenge in meeting 2025 targets that could prove unrealistic.

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