Climate Action

New £12m government fund to plant over 500 hectares of trees across England’s community forests

Over the next five months more than 500 hectares of trees are to be planted in 10 community forests across England, the government has announced.

  • 08 December 2020
  • Cordelia Van-Ristell

Over the next five months more than 500 hectares of trees are to be planted in 10 community forests across England, the government has announced.

A planting boost for England’s Community Forests has been announced, with a new £12.1 million fund to plant over 500 hectares of trees in ten Community Forests over the next five months.

The Trees for Climate funding programme will see trees planted in community forests across the country, from Yorkshire to Somerset. This will also build the pipeline of projects for community planting in future years, according to the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It aims to plant enough trees over the next five months that, once they mature, will eventually store over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, thereby playing a role in helping the UK meet its 2050 net zero emissions target, Defra said.

“This exciting new programme will benefit local communities all across England – helping to increase access to nature, creating much-needed jobs in the environmental sector and bringing invaluable benefits to people’s health and wellbeing,” said Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir William Worsley.

“The £12.1 million boost will be a huge help both for getting trees in the ground, but also enabling each of the Community Forests to ensure they are well-managed in the long term, making sure these new woods can thrive to the fullest extent.

The funding will create new jobs and secure existing ones within the forestry and environmental sector, helping to boost local economies as part of a green recovery. The project will also reduce flood risk, increase sustainable UK grown timber, provide more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive, and increase people’s access to and enjoyment of woodland.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Kemi Badenoch, said: “This investment will support growth right across England by creating new local jobs. It will also reduce flood risk, improve air quality and help make areas more attractive places to live. We are committed to supporting Britain to build back better and greener – and projects like this play a key role in doing so.”

The Prime Minister also recently announced a further £40 million additional investment into the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund – this will go towards creating and retaining thousands of jobs in the environmental sector, such as ecologists, project managers, tree planters and teams to carry out nature restoration.

With this comes the new England Tree Strategy, to accelerate tree planting and improve the management of our existing trees and woodlands. The new Strategy will help shape policies to plant and look after more trees for the climate, nature, people and the economy.

Trees for Climate will help deliver the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and support Nature Recovery Networks across England.

The £640 million Nature for Climate fund will see the government increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares per year across the UK by 2025, alongside peatland restoration and nature recovery.

But campaigners are sceptical of the government’s announcement, suggesting it’s not enough to sufficiently boost tree planting to be in line with what is needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Nick Rau, trees campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “You can’t shout from the rooftops about a few million pounds for tree planting to fix the climate crisis, while planning to spend nearly £30bn on building roads at the same time. The fact also remains that the government’s target on tree planting is just too low.”