FUNDING schemes aimed at encouraging the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees across England have reopened.
More than £14 million will be allocated to successful applicants across the funds, which will support tree planting efforts and contribute to Government commitments to treble tree-planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.
The scheme hopes to see 30,000 hectares of land planted with trees to meet net zero ambitions.
Round 3 of the Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF) will see local authorities drive an increase in non-woodland tree planting.
Local authorities are encouraged to bring together residents, schools and environmental groups to restore trees in areas outside woodlands, where treescapes are often highly degraded due to neglect or disease.
They are particularly valuable trees to society as they can provide the greatest levels of ecosystem services, including wellbeing benefits, and connectivity to support biodiversity.
Meanwhile, Round 5 of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) aims to level up access to nature across the country, planting trees in socially deprived urban areas with low canopy cover, in proximity to healthcare and educational facilities.
The UTCF supports planting of large ‘standard’ trees and street trees.
Forestry Minister, Trudy Harrison, said: “Trees improve people’s quality of lives and are vital to our ambition to reach net zero by 2050.
“This funding will continue to level up people’s access to nature, which we committed to doing in our recently published Environmental Improvement Plan. We want to see inspiring projects that plant more trees across England.”
Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford, said: “The Urban Tree Challenge Fund and Local Authorities Treescapes Fund will help to promote resilient treescapes in England, support tree planting efforts and improve the urban environment for future generations.
“It will see thousands of trees planted in socially deprived urban areas with limited numbers of trees. Research is clear that streets with trees in them leads to better wellbeing and health outcomes for residents as well as providing important biodiversity in our towns and cities.
“The same applies to green spaces in or close to towns and cities and we need more people to have access to quality woodlands and green spaces.”
Developments for the new rounds to help increase applications include:
• This round of LATF welcomes individual applications from borough, district and city councils, as well as county councils, unitary and metropolitan boroughs. Previously, these local authorities needed to form groups with each other or county councils in order to apply. This change opens the fund up to many more local authorities.
• The UTCF will now provide 80% funding of standard costs for planting large trees and their establishment costs for three years following planting, compared with funding 50% of standard costs in previous rounds. UTCF will now only require 20% match-funding by the recipient in either money or labour.
• Both funds are now open year-round, responding to feedback on the challenges of meeting application windows previously.
The Forestry Commission still strongly encourage applications during the spring/early summer so successful applicants can start their planting later this year, and funding will be allocated to successful applicants on a first-come-first-served basis.
Differences between the Local Authority Treescapes Fund and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund include:
• The Urban Tree Challenge Fund specifically funds projects planting new, large ‘standard’ trees, whilst Local Authority Treescapes Fund projects can plant trees of any size – although ‘standard’ trees in urban areas can only be planted where they are replacing trees that have been lost, for example due to disease.
• While both funds support tree planting in urban areas, the Local Authority Treescapes Fund also supports the planting of trees outside of woodlands in rural areas.
• All projects supported through the Local Authority Treescapes Fund must be led by a local authority.
The Urban Tree Challenge Fund is also open to projects led by charities, community groups and other organisations.
For more information and to apply, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/local-authority-treescapes-fund and www.gov.uk/guidance/urban-tree-challenge-fund.