£10 Million Plan to Plant 130,000 Trees Across England’s Towns & Cities

A new £10 million plan will see more than 130,000 trees planted across England’s towns and cities, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced today.

Through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, grants will be made available over the next two years to green urban areas and help meet the government’s target to plant one million urban trees by 2022.

Planting more trees is crucial in the fight against climate change, because trees store carbon and can help make our towns and cities more resilient. Trees in urban areas improve health and wellbeing, connect people with the outdoors, absorb noise, reduce flood risk, lower temperatures through shading, and create green spaces for communities to come together.

The scheme, which will be administered by the Forestry Commission, will be open to individuals, local authorities, charities and NGOs. Grants will fund the planting of trees and the first three years of their care to ensure they can flourish into the future.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

“Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates.

We need trees lining the streets of our cities and towns, not only to green and shade them but to ensure that we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world and the health and wellbeing benefits that it brings us.”

Government Tree Champion Sir William Worsley said:

“Trees are the lifeblood of our nation, and it is more important than ever to ensure they are rooted not only in our countryside, but in our towns and cities too.

The benefits of planting urban trees are endless, and I encourage anyone with the ability to apply for this fund to get involved and help green our towns and cities.”

The grant will be delivered as a challenge fund, and therefore requires match funding from those who apply.

The scheme will support projects which can provide the greatest environmental and social benefits, and applications will be processed by the Forestry Commission. A map will be available to check eligibility before applying.

Forestry Commission Chair Sir Harry Studholme said:

“I am delighted the Forestry Commission have been asked to deliver the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. The fund is an important part of the work that the Forestry Commission is doing to expand England’s tree and woodland cover.

It allows us to plant more trees much closer to where people live and work, and where the many benefits of trees make the most difference. We look forward to lots of new planting happening this Autumn.”

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

“There is an increasing understanding of the role that trees and woodlands play in helping to make our towns and cities better places for people and nature to thrive.

We need to be planting many more trees over the next 25 years, and England’s Community Forests welcome this new investment that is being announced by the government.”

The launch of the fund forms part of the government’s Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature. This commitment forms part of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to instill a legacy for the future, with a focus on children and young people.

Earlier this year the government consulted on a draft of forestry measures which included proposals to ensure communities have their say on whether street trees should be felled, with legislation to be brought forward later this year.

The government is committed to growing woodland cover, and this year we will consult on a new English Tree Strategy to accelerate woodland creation and introduce a flagship Environment Bill to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age.

Tilhill Forestry’s Principal Landscape Architect Brian Hawtin said;

“The Government’s announcement of £10m funding to plant more than 130,000 trees in urban environments is a great first step towards addressing the urgent need for urban forests. Trees are a major part of an integrated solution towards improving air quality,  boosting general mental health by exposure to nature and increasing useable green spaces in cities. I hope this can lead to a further growth in planning and funding municipal green zones such as pocket parks, wildlife corridors and natural areas within our urban environment which, if sufficiently funded, and most importantly, correctly managed will help safeguard our city environment for years to come.”

The fund will be open this week for applications.