Community Forests welcome funding boost to tree planting around England’s towns and cities

England’s Community Forests (ECF) have today welcomed the announcement by the Secretary of State for the Environment of over £25 million in support for woodland creation partnerships alongside the launch of the England Trees Action Plan.

Broughton Hall, the White Rose Forest, photo credit Matt Taylor

The funding will enable the second year of a new five year ECF programme called ‘Trees for Climate’ which was launched in December 2020 and which has already delivered hundreds of hectares of tree planting across the country through an innovative landowner grant scheme.

The priority of the ECF programme is to help the UK’s efforts to reach net zero but also to 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.

Trees for Climate will also 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 funding will enable the second year of a new five year ECF programme – ‘Trees for Climate’, launched in December 2020, which has already delivered hundreds of hectares of tree planting

Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley said:

“The climate emergency means we need new trees, woodland and forests more than ever before. They are vital for absorbing carbon dioxide, but also for providing homes for wildlife, helping reduce flood risk, to offering huge benefits for our health and wellbeing. The plans announced today are hugely exciting and map out how trees will be part of the solution to getting to Net Zero.”

The Environment Secretary said:

“Today, I am also outlining measures to better protect our existing trees and woodland and set us on the path to ensure that we have at least 12% of woodland cover by the middle of the century. It is our ambition that all woodlands in England will improve the environment, acknowledging that our woods and trees are vital habitats. The iconic oak tree alone supports 2,300 species, of which 326 are dependent on oak trees for their survival. Trees are also important for sequestering carbon. Indeed woodlands currently sequester about 4% of the UK’s gross emissions.”

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest and the Chair of England’s Community Forests, said:

“England’s Community Forests are pleased to be a key partner in delivering the England Trees Action Plan and look forward to planting hundreds more hectares in the year ahead to help combat climate change, deliver green jobs and help nature recover around our towns and cities.

“We know that there is huge potential for more trees and woodland across England and by focusing our efforts around urban areas – which is what we do as Community Forests – we guarantee that the maximum public benefit is delivered.”

Download: ‘England Trees Action Plan 2021 to 2024’ on the GOV.UK website

England’s Community Forests co-ordinate accessible woodland creation projects around towns and cities across the country, designed to deliver a wide range of public benefits and involve local people. The ECF programme is being supported by the national charity The Community Forest Trust.

The Community Forests network includes: The Forest of Marston Vale; Great Western Community Forest; The Greenwood Community Forest; The Mersey Forest; Manchester City of Trees; Forest of Avon Trust; HEYwoods; Thames Chase Trust; White Rose Forest; and the Forest of Mercia.

Trees for Climate is part of the wider Nature for Climate fund, helping to treble tree planting and deliver the English portion of the government’s manifesto commitment to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares by the end of this Parliament. This will be backed by over £500 million of climate finance.