Half a million trees to be planted in English towns and cities

The Local Authority Treescapes and Urban Tree Challenge funds have reopened, encouraging communities and authorities to launch planting projects. 

More than £9million has been allocated for two schemes in England, which will see up to 680,000 new trees planted in the coming year. The initiatives form part of the UK Government’s push to ‘build back greener’ following the coronavirus pandemic, with plans to treble nationwide planting rates to 30,000 hectares of trees annually by 2025. 

green plant on white plastic bag

Funding is divided into two specific schemes. The first – the Local Authority Treescapes Fund – claims £5.4m of the total money available, which experts say is enough to pay for around 650,000 trees to be planted by local authorities, which can either take the form of natural regeneration or more traditional planting.

Local authorities must take a lead, but participation from schools, resident and environmental groups is encouraged to restore trees, including outside of woodland areas. This could be at riverbanks, on vacant plots of land, or by roadsides – locations where neglect and disease have had a major impact on trees. Trees can be any size, however ‘standard’ species can only be planted in urban areas where they have already been lost.

In comparison, the Urban Tree Challenge Fund will see £3.8m spent on 28,000 large trees in urban and semi-rural zones. The focus is to increase the number of trees in and around locations that suffer from deprivation, fostering stronger links between different communities, helping all people get closer to nature. Only ‘standard’ size trees can be planted under this scheme, which can be run by charities and non-governmental organisations. 

Both funds are now open, with a deadline of 31st May 2022 for applications.

‘Together, these funds will help to promote resilient tree growth in England for generations to come, whilst simultaneously addressing the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss,’ said Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley. ‘Research shows that trees planted on streets in urban areas help to decrease antidepressant costs related to mental health issues by £16 million. We are therefore committed to expanding and protecting our nation’s treescapes through schemes like these for the health, social and economic benefits they bring.’ 

In related news, December 2021 saw the UK Environment Agency celebrate a major milestone, with over 80,000 trees planted in Cumbria. 

Image credit: George Bakos





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