Thousands of new trees will be planted across the South West thanks to a cash boost from the Woodland Trust.
Both Devon and Cornwall councils will benefit from the charity’s Emergency Tree Fund that aims to make up for a current lack of investment to help cash strapped local authorities break through barriers to get more trees and woods in the ground, giving more local communities the green spaces on their doorsteps that are desperately needed, and which have shown to be so important for people during the current pandemic.
In 2019 Cornwall Council declared a Climate Emergency and set out its ambition to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. It has already launched its Forest for Cornwall and the new fund will further help with its aim to create 8,000 hectares of woodland over the coming years.
Edwina Hannaford, Portfolio Holder for Climate Change at Cornwall Council, which will receive £293,965, said: “We are particularly excited to receive this funding as it will enable us to work with more communities across Cornwall. We have seen a real desire within our communities to respond to the Climate Emergency and to plant trees and we are working with a number already.
“This funding will allow us to do more and help everyone who wants to get involved and plant their bit of the Forest for Cornwall.”
Devon County Council, which will receive £297,349, is working towards a net zero carbon emissions target.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “The Emergency Tree Fund will help us to kick-start a new ‘Trees for Devon’ initiative, through which we hope to work closely with key partners and with Parish and Town Councils in increasing tree cover across the county. This work will start immediately by providing free tree packs to 40 individuals who have offered land for the planting of a network of copse and tree clumps over the next few weeks.”
Graham Burton, Outreach Manager from the Woodland Trust said: “The drive and enthusiasm from both Devon and Cornwall councils to take action for woods and trees is to be commended. This funding will support them in progressing further and faster in delivering their plans for woods and trees, for wildlife, people and the climate.”
In total, £2.9 million will going to councils across the UK. It is a key part of the charity’s recently announced ambitious aim to plant 50 million trees by 2025.
John Tucker, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Woodland Outreach at the Trust said: “This funding to councils has the power to inspire a new generation in tree planting and galvanise the need to treasure trees in our neighbourhoods. What the country’s fight against COVID-19 has shown is how communities have come together in a time of crisis. As the pandemic hopefully abates, getting outside and planting trees will be a way for this spirit to be harnessed once again in a different but a very important way - to tackle climate change.”
Other councils receiving the fund include Wolverhampton, which is creating a real urban tree planting initiative and is looking to plant pockets of woodland on a range of open spaces in the city. And the Black Country where the money will go towards a comprehensive assessment of the area’s tree stock.
To achieve its 50 million trees aim the Trust is aiming to create new woods as well as work with the likes of landowners, the Government, businesses and the public. Its Emergency Tree Fund may be expanded should this prove a success. Find out more here: woodlandtrust.org.uk