Nursery partnership with National Forest gives tree-mendous boost to council planting ambitions

The project aims to produce around 20,000 trees per year

Councillor Blake Pain and Louise Driver from the National Forest

A new tree nursery is to be developed by Leicestershire County Council in partnership with the National Forest Company (NFC). The project is to develop a new community-focused nursery involving local groups and organisations to help collect seeds and grow new trees to plant across Leicestershire and the National Forest.

The project – which aims to produce around 20,000 trees per year - will be trialled for four years with ambitions to inspire other communities to start up tree nurseries.       

Work on the site located in the heart of the National Forest in Moira is due to start soon, with phase one of the project involving the development of the site, access, infrastructure, polytunnels and growing beds.

Seeds will be collected and planted later this year and the trees will eventually help to support the council’s ambitious plans to increase the level of tree planting across Leicestershire and the drive to eventually plant 700,000 - one for every person in the county.

The nursery will also supply the NFC and potentially other local authorities – although most of the trees grown at the site will be planted within the county.

The council has leased the site at Hanging Hill Farm in Moira from the NFC, and will develop, run and manage the nursery, with investment from both sides.

The nursery will eventually offer opportunities for apprenticeships, volunteering and lifelong skills training.

The nursery is being created to ensure a regular supply of healthy, high-quality trees to meet the council’s increased demand, as it pledges to increase the level of tree planting across Leicestershire.

The development of the nursery will help to safeguard against national shortages of key tree species such as oak, to increase biosecurity and cut the risk of disease by reducing the transportation of trees around the country and reduce carbon emissions.

Tree and woodland planting is a vital part of our response to the climate change and biodiversity crises and Leicestershire County Council is working towards helping to plant a tree for every resident in the county.

The development of our own tree nursery, in partnership with the NFC, will allow this planting to take a huge stride forward by securing and protecting the supply of trees, as well as ensuring that we are able to grow the best and most appropriate trees for our needs.

The project will also help to build skills and knowledge providing valuable apprenticeship and volunteering opportunities.

The council has developed a Strategic Plan, which recognises the importance of the natural environment and the countryside in making Leicestershire an attractive place to live and work, as well as playing a role in the ambition for the county to be net zero for carbon by 2045.

More information on the council’s tree ambitions and an interactive map showing the number of trees planted is available on our Tree for Every Person web page.

While the National Forest has trebled forest cover over the last 30 years, Leicestershire is still one of the least wooded areas of the country with currently around six per cent woodland – well below the national average of 10 per cent.

Trees play an important part in providing clean air, improving soil quality, reducing flooding, storing carbon and supporting wildlife, so increasing woodlands can significantly improve quality of life.

John Everitt, Chief Executive of the NFC, said: “This tree nursery project represents an exciting collaboration between the National Forest Company and Leicestershire County Council, and we look forward to seeing the nursery grow local seeds into healthy trees that will be planted to benefit nature, communities and our wider environment."  

Leicestershire Matters

Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Mike Kapur OBE presented the MBE, BEM and Coronation Champions awards at two ceremonies

Chart topping stats show county is quitting the habit

Beacon Voices, whose members are all young people in care, will also be making a guest appearance at the final in-person fostering event of the year

Anyone in the county with a suitable piece of land to plant can apply for the free trees

The funding will be used to buy and install 364 swift nesting boxes

Our full county council meets today - watch online from 2pm