Credit: Forestry Commission
Thirteen projects set to deliver tens of thousands of new trees by 2021 as government looks to deliver on manifesto tree-planting pledges
The government has today announced the first successful bidders to its new Urban Tree Challenge Fund, confirming 13 projects are set to plant around 50,000 trees across England.
The projects have been awarded a share of the £10m fund, which is designed to support the planting of 130,000 trees in English towns and cities by the end of 2021. The latest projects will see over 22,000 large trees and 28,000 small trees planted in urban areas, from Thanet to Middlesbrough, and Merseyside to Bristol.
The government said the projects would help areas improve health and wellbeing, while also helping to tackle air pollution, deliver on the UK’s net zero emissions goal, and improve urban climate resilience by curbing flood and heat risks.
“Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, to tackle air pollution and help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050,” said Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers. “But for local communities they are so much more. They allow green spaces to come together, help both physical and mental wellbeing, and connect children and young people with nature. Our manifesto sets our ambition to have every new street lined with trees, and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund complements this ambition, benefitting thousands of people for years to come.”
The new funding will also contribute to the government’s wider manifesto pledge to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year across the UK by 2025. The promise to step up tree-planting rates was broadly welcomed by green groups, but critics also noted that significant further investment in tree planting and management was likely to be required over the coming decade to get the UK on track to meet its 2050 net zero target.
The new projects were welcomed by Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir Harry Studholme, who said the funding had been specifically targeted on areas of high deprivation and low tree canopy cover so that “every tree planted has the change to provide the greatest impact”.
“Not only do trees in urban areas help to improve wellbeing but they also offer benefits in many other ways like helping tackle climate change and mitigating flood risks,” he added. “I look forward to seeing the second year of the fund re-opening for smaller scale planting later this year.”
The successful projects in the first round include a Trees for Cities initiative which will receive support for over 9,000 trees to be distributed across the country, as well as plans to plant over 8,000 trees in Slough, 6,000 trees through the Mersey Forest programme, and almost 7,000 large trees as part of the London Street Trees initiative.