Major expansion of English woodlands announced

11th August 2022

The UK government has allocated more than £44m of funding to help treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this parliament and drive net-zero emissions.

Collectively, around 2,300 hectares of trees – equivalent to around 3,220 football pitches – will be planted, with a focus on areas with the lowest woodland cover.

The government estimates that the additional planting will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050, providing an economic value of nearly £100m.

Reduced flood risk in vulnerable areas, sustainable UK-grown timber, new green jobs, and more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive, are just some of the expected benefits.

“Our economies, livelihoods and well-being all rely on nature," said forestry minister Lord Zac Goldsmith.

“As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse treescapes across the country and improve the health and well-being of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep.”

England’s 13 community forests, including the Humber and Mersey Forests as well the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are all set to benefit from the funding.

Local authorities will also benefit from further support through the development of a new LA Tree and Woodland Strategies toolkit, launching in September in partnership with the Tree Council, Fera, Forestry Commission and Forest Research.

This comes after a YouGov poll of 20,000 adults recently found that only 25% feel proud of the work that local communities and businesses are doing to invest in green initiatives.

As a result, 16% said that they would be willing to move to a different area of the country if their home town or city doesn’t become greener in the next five years.

Commenting on the latest funding, Sir William Worsley, Forestry Commission chair, said: “The social, environmental and economic benefits of being in woodlands are well-documented, helping local communities to be happier, healthier and more pleasant places to live.

“It is a personal mission of mine to make sure as many people as possible get to experience these benefits.

“This funding will ensure we plant trees in areas close to where people live, as well as providing job opportunities in new woodland creation through planting, establishing and managing trees.”

Image credit: iStock

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