Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton joined in with pupils of the ‘Forest School’ at Warren Hills Primary school in Coalville today, at the national launch of the government’s Urban Tree Challenge.
The ‘Forest School’ initiative at the school encourages learning in a natural setting and is an innovative way of getting outside and close to nature.
The Urban Tree Challenge announced by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is a £10million plan which will see more than 130,000 trees planted across England’s towns, cities and counties, including Leicestershire.
Forestry Minister David Rutley MP was also at Coalville for the launch as well as representatives from the Forestry Commission and the National Forest Company.
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.
The scheme, which will be administered by the Forestry Commission, will be open to individuals, local authorities and charities.
As a local authority, we must take the lead in building on global and national commitments and work collaboratively with colleagues, local communities and partners. We very much welcome the announcement of the Urban Tree Challenge.
The scheme can only further enhance the National Forest, which is one of the jewels in Leicestershire’s crown. We’re very committed to meeting the challenges of the environment.
Only last week, we set out our stance to become carbon-neutral by 2030 as well as declaring a climate emergency. Balancing budget pressures with green policies won’t be easy, but we have already made big changes.
We’ve also had a free tree scheme in place for many years and we’ve supplied more than 1,000 trees for farmers and landowners to plant on sites throughout the county.Person:Nick Rushton, county council leader
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.”
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 raft 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.