The investment will create larger, well-designed and more diverse woodlands which will be more resilient to climate change, as well as natural hazards such as wildfires and storms – playing an important role in helping us adapt to a warmer world. They will help to reduce ﬂood risk in vulnerable areas, provide sustainable UK grown timber and provide more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive.
England’s 13 Community Forests, including the Humber and Mersey Forests as well as partners including the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are all set to benefit from the funding. As part of the Government’s £750m Nature for Climate Fund, these projects will expand woodlands near our cities, towns, villages and rivers - giving more people greater access to nature and improving health and wellbeing.
Collectively around 2,300 hectares of trees – equivalent to around 3,220 football pitches – will be planted as part of this year’s £44.2m funding allocation, playing an important role in Government ambitions to treble tree planting by the end of this Parliament and reach net zero. It is estimated the planting will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050, valued at nearly £100m.
The funding will also create more green jobs within the forestry and environmental sectors, helping spread economic growth across the country.
Forestry Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said: “Our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing all rely on nature. 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 wellbeing of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep.”
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.”
Paul Nolan, Chair of England’s Community Forests, said: “England’s Community Forests welcome the opportunity to establish even more new woodlands close to people to deliver all the benefits that we know they provide.”
Community Forest plans contribute to the planning and regeneration strategies of the local authorities they work with, providing the green infrastructure needed to support regional growth.
These plans are targeted to areas where woodland cover is lowest and focus tree planting towards more deprived communities - helping to level-up environmental benefits across the whole of England.
Local authorities will also benefit from support announced today for the development of woodland strategies.