Supporting your communities through tree planting
Author: Richard Stanford CB MBE, chief executive of the Forestry Commission
With growing environmental pressures to tackle the climate and nature emergencies, never has it been a more important time to grow trees. The UK government and local authorities share a common goal to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.
The Forestry Commission, whose aim is to help to tackle society’s biggest challenges with thriving trees, woods and forests, were pleased to meet recently with NALC. We were very pleased to discuss how investing in nature’s recovery through woodland creation and management can play a crucial role in achieving these goals whilst also providing a wide range of other benefits, such as:
- Protecting our soils
- Reducing erosion
- Providing a natural form of flood management
- Reducing water pollution in our streams, rivers and lakes
- Improving air quality by filtering harmful gases
- Providing green spaces for health and wellbeing
Well-designed, managed woodlands can also generate a reliable income from the sale of carbon units as early as five years after planting. In addition, there are the more traditional revenue streams from agroforestry, timber, wood fuel, recreation and well-being. The attached slides have more information.
Local authorities are perfectly placed to lead by example, and we have been very pleased with some excellent recent examples. Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire councils are working with local communities, landowners and other partners to develop local plans and strategies to deliver their ambitious tree-planting targets.
Buckinghamshire Council aims to plant at least 543,000 trees across its estate, funded by the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) and the Forestry England Woodland Partnership, with all eligible projects being registered with the Woodland Carbon Code.
Gloucestershire County Council’s (GCC) aim to become a carbon-neutral county has resulted in a commitment to plant one million trees across Gloucestershire by 2030. Funded by the Local Authority Treescapes Fund, GCC has almost doubled the number of trees planted by partnering to plant in farms, schools, green spaces, roadsides, council housing, amenity areas and private land. Importantly, tree planting will help GCC reduce the risk of a repeat of the devastating floods of 2007 and replace trees lost to ash dieback.
Further case studies can be found on helping local authorities respond to the biodiversity emergency and helping local authorities respond to the climate emergency.
The Forestry Commission is on hand to guide a range of grant funding, including:
- Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF): Funds the establishment of trees in non-woodland settings. Available to Lower and Higher Tier Authorities. Although parish and town councils cannot apply for LATF directly, they may apply as part of a group application with a Lead Authority.
- Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF): Provides funding for anyone who wants to plant trees in urban or peri-urban areas.
- England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO): Supports new woodland creation of at least one hectare in size or woodland blocks of 0.1 hectares.
- The Forestry England Woodland Partnership: Creates new woodlands across England in partnership through a leasehold scheme.
NALC members can support woodland creation schemes by:
- Informing rural councils and land managers of the need for trees and the generous grants available.
- Looking favourably at woodland creation proposals.
- Informing and educating communities on the benefits of trees and woodlands in their local area.
- Supporting consultations and change of land use.
- Promoting the use of wild venison in schools and hospitals as a healthy and sustainable meat.
We also recommend speaking with neighbouring authorities to identify opportunities to collaborate with other local tree-planting initiatives to make woodland creation across local landscapes, towns, and cities a reality.
The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.