Aerial photograph of Knaresborough

Defra to allocate £12m to schemes to plant trees in England

Over a quarter of a million trees are set to be planted in England, as part of new funding awarded to projects around the country during National Tree Week.

Announced by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Forestry Commission, the new Nature for Climate Fund will allocate over £12m in funding to successful applicants to four funds supporting tree planting efforts for future generations.

The funding allocation announcement comes alongside the launch of a third national community forest, which will be created in Cumbria, which will see up to 150 hectares (equivalent to approximately 210 football pitches) of trees, woodlands and forests planted.

As part of the Local Authority Treescapes Fund, 260,000 trees will be planted outside of woodlands, with 139 local authorities to be awarded a share of the now £4.4m pot, across 42 projects.

These projects will support a variety of ways to get trees in the ground, from natural regeneration and traditional planting to community engagement. Local residents, schools, and environment groups will come together to plant trees in shared spaces, with training provided to support community groups.

Grasmere Lake

Trees will be reintroduced to non-wooded areas such as riverbanks, along hedgerows, beside roads and footpaths, and within vacant community spaces – areas where treescapes are often highly degraded due to neglect, disease or historical decline.

Urban forests have been proven to increase safety, health and desirability in our towns and cities, helping boost residents’ wellbeing and contributing to efforts tackling climate change.

Around England, the third round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund will support 46 projects to plant almost 25,000 trees, building on the 134,000 trees already planted through the fund in deprived urban areas.

Also included in the Defra and Forestry Commission announcement, the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds will distribute close to £700,000 in funding to 17 projects, restoring biodiversity in vulnerable natural habitats, helping woodlands adapt to a changing climate and aiding their recovery from the impacts of pests and diseases.

These projects will develop new business models and supply chains for ash timber, helping to restore woodlands damaged by ash dieback. Projects will also improve access to woodlands to allow for active management where previously not possible, whilst engaging with forestry businesses and conversation organisations on woodland management.

The Tree Production Innovation Fund is also set to allocate more than £1m available to 16 innovative projects aimed at increasing and diversifying our domestic tree production.

Projects selected include collaborations from researchers, nurseries, seed suppliers and industry, such as the Future Trees Trust, the University of Oxford, and Maelor Forest Nurseries.

These projects will explore a range of novel production methods including the establishment of clonal seed orchards for oak, the use of AI in advanced propagation systems and DNA fingerprinting technologies for the genetic tracing of Forest Reproductive Materials (FRM), respectively.

UK town with urban trees growing

Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said: “This targeted package of funding will help us to build back greener and regenerate natural spaces across the country for the benefit of all.

“Trees are at the heart of our ambitious environmental programme, as we work to deliver on the promises, we made at COP26 and treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament.

“But at the local level, trees and woodlands are the lifeblood of communities, essential to supporting wellbeing, reducing pollution and improving people’s quality of life.

Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley added: “These inspiring initiatives will help to stem the tide of biodiversity loss and promote resilient tree growth and management across the UK, whilst helping to futureproof our natural world amidst a changing climate.”

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