57 local authorities across England have been awarded nearly £10 million in funding to accelerate tree planting activity, create green jobs and boost access to nature, Defra and the Forestry Commission have announced.
The Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, which will run for the next two years, will be delivered by the Forestry Commission in partnership with Defra, will provide local authorities with financial support to boost capacity and resource, helping them to employ, train up and bring on board professional expertise to drive tree planting and woodland creation commitments.
Funding boost for country’s woodlands and timber industry
- £20m to improve tree planting stocks, woodland resilience, domestic timber production and accelerate tree planting across England
- Funding will support projects which use new technologies to support trees, including modernisation for tree nurseries and developing new ideas that can improve the ecological condition of woodlands and their resilience to climate change
- 57 local authorities awarded nearly £10 million to accelerate planting of thousands of trees
Projects that tackle some of the greatest threats to our trees and forests will get a boost from government funding, it has been announced today (Monday 28 November). This is alongside additional investment announced for local authority tree planting initiatives which will see hundreds of thousands of trees planted in communities across England.
The funding will drive long-term woodland creation efforts, create jobs, boost biodiversity and support innovative approaches to tree health and resilience, in the face of climate change and the mounting threat of pests and diseases.
Successful applicants include:
- the University of Lincoln’s ISILDUR project, which will work with tree nurseries to address labour shortages in the forest nursery sector by developing an intelligent robotics solution for plant processing.
- the University of Cambridge’s TIMBER project, which is designing and creating prototypes for new building materials to drive home-grown, low-carbon and long-lasting construction nationwide.
- Red Squirrel South West, which will be given funding to develop a management programme for invasive grey squirrels across a 35-mile stretch of native North Exmoor coastal woodland, helping to regenerate woodlands and supporting the reintroduction of native species like red squirrels.
The United Kingdom consumes 53 million tonnes of wood and wood products each year; however, 81% is imported from abroad. The major investment announced today will support projects developing new technologies and working practices to help homegrown timber production meet a greater proportion of domestic demand. This will help to improve timber security and grow the United Kingdom’s forestry and primary wood processing sectors, which support 30,000 jobs and contribute over £2 billion to our economy every year.
Alongside this, 57 local authorities across England have received nearly £10 million in funding through the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund to kickstart tree planting activity, create new green jobs and boost access to nature, such as by employing new staff to access the professional expertise needed to drive tree planting and woodland creation activity at a local level. Planting will take place across the country in areas with lower tree cover, as well as through ambitious schemes expanding existing woodlands in rural settings. It is expected that more than 100 new green jobs will be created across the country as a result, with an emphasis on upskilling professionals from outside the forestry sector. This will help to expand the industry’s workforce, address skills shortages and help to grow the economy.
Trudy Harrison, Forestry Minister, said:
“Our trees, forests and woodlands are the nation’s lungs – filtering our air, capturing carbon, providing habitats and serving as a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. At a local level, trees are the lifeblood of communities, essential to supporting wellbeing, beautifying our streets and improving people’s quality of life while providing a safe haven for wildlife.
“Protecting and restoring our precious natural world can work hand-in-hand with building a stronger, healthier economy. Using new technologies through these funds will build a bigger, better and more resilient forestry industry for the future, as we strive to deliver on our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”
Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said:
“These funds will unleash the potential of the forestry sector by championing nurseries, charities and businesses operating at the forefront of technological innovation. They will help more people across society get trees in the ground at an unprecedented pace and scale, whilst ensuring their resilience for future generations.
“Through the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, local authorities have set out a range of inspiring and ambitious plans which equate to more than 10 million trees being planted on public land across England by 2025. The funding will turn these aspirations into results, marking a significant step forward in our collective efforts to increase tree planting rates in England.
“The urgent environmental and economic challenges of the day demand innovative solutions and the projects supported through the innovation funds will underpin our collective efforts to build larger, more diverse and more resilient treescapes across the country, whilst opening up new markets for timber and creating opportunities for growth.”
Hannah Bartram, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport, said:
“The Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund is set to make a real difference, supporting local authorities to accelerate their tree and woodland planting plans and helping to tackle the climate change and biodiversity crises.
“The fund has been well received and demand has been high – it will support local authorities across the country, equipping them with the new staff, skills, and expertise needed to drive tree planting and woodland creation commitments.”
Trees make our towns and cities healthier and more pleasant places to be, helping to moderate temperatures, reduce pollution, decrease flood risk and improve quality of life for people from all socio-economic backgrounds.
Also announced today, the Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF) and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) will reopen for new applications early in 2023, with some significant improvements to the funds based on stakeholder feedback. Now in their third and fifth rounds respectively, the reopening of both funds will see trees planted in rural areas (for LATF), as well as in towns and cities nationwide. It represents another step forward in the Government’s drive to treble tree planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament.
This announcement forms part of wider government action to recover and restore nature, as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan and commitments to reach net zero by 2050.
You can find out more about the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund on the ADEPT website.
Notes for Editors
- The funding announced today is made possible through the government’s circa £750 million Nature for Climate Fund.
- Trees are at the forefront of the government’s plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, to help to bend the curve of biodiversity loss, improve the environment and to create thousands of green jobs while better connecting people with nature.
- The England Trees Action Plan, supported by circa £750m from the Nature for Climate Fund, is a once-in-a-generation plan to help achieve this vision. We will see an unprecedented number of trees planted, protected and managed to deliver more for society, nature, the climate and the economy, setting us on a path to realise our longer-term ambitions for increased tree cover.
- The Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund has been promoted by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), on behalf of Defra and the Forestry Commission. ADEPT will continue to support the successful local authorities over the next two years.
Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds
Around 41% of woodlands in England are not actively managed, which can be detrimental to biodiversity and leave neglected woodlands vulnerable to pests and disease. The 33 projects allocated a share of £5.8 million through the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds will develop new ideas that can help improve the ecological condition of woodlands and their resilience to climate change via increased demand for wood and a greater level of active management. The Forestry Commission aims to bring an additional 20,000 hectares of existing woodland in England into active management by 2024/25.
Under the umbrella of the Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds, the Timber in Construction Innovation Fund supports projects which increase and facilitate the use of sustainable English wood and wood fibre in construction projects. Successful applicants include the University of Cambridge’s TIMBER project, which is designing and creating prototypes for new structural building components to drive home-grown, low-carbon and long-lasting construction nationwide.
In addition, Red Squirrel South West will be supported through the Regional Woodland Restoration Innovation Funds to lead a management programme for invasive grey squirrels across a 35-mile stretch of native North Exmoor coastal woodland. This will enable the woodland to regenerate, fostering a better connected and more biodiverse habitat - ultimately leading to the reintroduction of red squirrels.
Tree Production Innovation Fund
The Tree Production Innovation Fund aims to support innovative projects which explore how new technologies and ways of working can enhance the quantity, quality, and diversity of tree planting stock in England. This will serve to supply young trees in the quantities required to realise ambitious tree planting goals over the coming years. £4.5 million has been made available to support 13 organisations operating across the forestry industry, including collaborations between nurseries, researchers and charities.
Successful applicants include the University of Lincoln’s ISILDUR project, which will work with tree nurseries to address labour shortages in the forest nursery sector by developing an intelligent robotics solution for plant processing. The project will involve the design and prototype demonstration of a novel 2-robot solution, combining flexible robotic manipulation and intelligent machine vision in a system capable of performing singulating, grading, counting and packaging.
In addition, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, working with Elsoms Seeds and Elsoms Trees, will investigate germination and morphological traits in UK native tree seeds. The project seeks to better understand how such traits vary between wild populations and commercial seed batches, explore how this variation relates to environmental conditions, and apply this knowledge to optimise seed quality and germinability by developing innovative high-throughput seed screening techniques.
Local Authority Treescapes Fund and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund
The Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF) is a key government offer for local authorities to drive an increase in non-woodland tree planting across our landscapes. The fund is focused on replanting trees outside of woodlands including trees in hedgerows, parklands, riparian zones, urban areas, beside roads and footpaths as well as small linear woodlands, copses, and shelterbelts and within vacant community spaces – areas 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. The fund will also contribute greatly to landscape recovery from tree diseases such as ash dieback.
The LATF first launched in 2021, and in the two rounds since has planted nearly 200,000 trees outside of woodlands, with over 200,000 due to be planted this winter. 190 local authorities will be allocated a share of approximately £7.7 million across 76 projects.
Round 3 of LATF will continue to support local authorities to establish trees of all sizes in a variety of ways, from natural regeneration (where trees are left to naturally develop) to traditional planting. Community engagement is encouraged, and local authorities are encouraged to bring together local residents, schools and environmental groups to restore trees in areas outside woodlands. An exciting development for round 3 of the LATF is that individual applications are now welcomed from Borough, District and City Councils as well as County Councils, Unitary and Metropolitan Boroughs, although group applications will score more highly.
The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) is a key government offer 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 – making an immediate impact to communities and ensuring other organisations who provide planting for smaller trees can continue to do so.
When the UTCF reopens next year, the UTCF will provide 80% funding of standard costs for planting large trees and their establishment costs for 3 years following planting. This is an increase from previous rounds where 50% of standard costs were paid by the UTCF, and the remaining 50% had to be match-funded by the recipient in either money or labour; now, the applicant will only need to provide 20% of the funding.
When both the LATF and UTCF reopen next year, the application windows will be removed and both funds will open year-round, relieving pressure on applicants.
There are several key differences between the Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF) and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF):
- The UTCF specifically funds projects planting new, large ‘standard’ trees, whilst LATF 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.
- Whilst both funds support tree planting in urban areas, the LATF also supports the planting of trees outside of woodlands in rural areas.
- UTCF is also open to projects led by anyone with management control of the land, be that charities, community groups and other organisations. Whilst all projects supported through the LATF must be led by a local authority (a County Council, City Council, Borough Council or District Council), working with schools, other organisations, grassroot organisations, community groups, NGOs and private individuals is strongly encouraged.
For further information about these funds, subscribe to the Forestry Commission eAlert, register for email updates to the Gov.uk pages (Local Authority Treescapes Fund - GOV.UK) and Urban Tree Challenge Fund - GOV.UK), and read our new blog which outlines the major changes to next year’s rounds of LATF and UTCF, and provides some tips on getting your applications ready.
There is also a free online Q&A session taking place on Monday 5 December where Local Authorities can ask questions about the LATF and UTCF. Click here for more information and to register your place.
Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund
Staff employed or trained through the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund can include project managers, woodland creation officers, community engagement officers, funding consultants or specialist advisors, such as landscape architects or archaeologists – with each new job created boosting the local economy.
Together, the staff will focus on developing planting plans, applications for capital funding in 2023/2024 and 2024/2025, and speeding up the delivery of new woodlands, contributing to our plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Since the Fund’s launch in June, an additional £2 million has been made available through the Government’s £750 million Nature for Climate Fund in response to the high level of interest in the grant, the quality of proposals submitted and the recognised need for support.
Over two thirds of upper tier local authorities in England applied for the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, representing a blend of urban, mixed, and rural applications.
Successful applicants include the Tees Valley Woodland Creation Partnership, a joint project led by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, alongside its five constituent Local Authorities – Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees, supported by the North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub. They will employ three new Woodland Creation Project Officers and a Woodland Creation Partnership Coordinator. This will help to accelerate their woodland creation activity five-fold to 50 hectares in 2023/2024 and up to 150 hectares by 2025, as well as support the planting of 1,000 larger street trees across the Tees Valley annually.
In addition, Oxfordshire County Council will create two new Community Tree and Woodland Planting roles as part of their collaboration with five other local authorities in the region. The two new recruits will work to increase tree cover through training volunteer groups and further engaging the local community in woodland creation activities.
Case studies: Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds
Kat Webb, Charity Administrator and Project Co-ordinator, Red Squirrel South West, said: "This project allows us to develop a model for landscape-scale grey squirrel management, which if successful could be used elsewhere within mainland Britain to reduce invasive grey squirrel populations, protect and restore native woodland, and work towards the return of native species such as red squirrels. Natural woodland regeneration is hampered by the presence of grey squirrels, but through applying active and targeted grey squirrel management we hope to create a better connected and more resilient habitat. WIMFIF’s support enables the partnership to demonstrate progress and prove its concept. The injection of funding provides incentive for experts in the field to engage with the project and increases our outreach of education and training to gain support for this important work."
- Grown in Britain’s ‘Ash - A New Seat at the Table’ project will receive funding through the Routes to Market for Ash Timber Innovation Fund to build a new, sustainable market for homegrown Ash timber in the UK furniture sector.
- The new supply chain for ash boards and plywood will be created by developing a range of furniture with long-standing British furniture manufacturer ercol to sell through high street retailers, partners and directly from ercol.com.
Rachel Lawrence, Business Manager, Grown in Britain, said: “This project touches every aspect of an ash tree’s journey from the woodland, through to the sawmill, on into design and manufacture and finally through retail and into the hands of the consumer, potentially for generations to come. It is a privilege to be working with the team at ercol, whose passion and quality shines through and this project represents a significant opportunity, enabled by the Forestry Innovation Funds funding, to bring furniture design and manufacture back into the UK. Our ambition is not simply to make Grown in Britain-certified tables and chairs but to onshore a scalable, commercially viable supply chain with a lasting legacy.”
Case Studies - Tree Production Innovation Fund
- The University of Lincoln will receive funding for its Intelligent Singulating and Labelling of Developing trees Using Robotics (ISILDUR) project.
Marcello Costi, Associate Professor in Agri-Robotics at the University of Lincoln said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to match scientific challenges and impactful research. Our team at the University of Lincoln is excited to work with the long term objective of contributing to the climate crisis response, and the TPIF is helping us to build a responsible, innovative and world-leading robotic solution for plant processing. It addresses societal challenges such as the labour crisis that impairs the growth and sustainability of Forest Nurseries, and at the same time it contributes to fundamental understanding of how robots perceive and interact with the world.”
Ted Chapman, UK Conservation Partnerships Coordinator, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, said: “Seed lies at the heart of the tree supply chain but, unlike most crops bred for consistency and ease of cultivation, native tree seed is inherently variable in size, shape and germination behaviour. Understanding this variation and how it impacts on seed quality and germinability will be key to designing efficient production processes, reduce waste and make a wider range of seed available. Our TPIF project is an exciting opportunity to link science directly to industry, combining Kew-led research into the morphology and germination ecology of tree seeds with technical development and application in high throughput screening techniques at Elsoms. We are delighted to continue our work and look forward to sharing what we learn as the project progresses.”
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is an exempt charity and arms-length public body of the UK government through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which acts as RBG Kew’s principal regulator for charity law purposes.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: https://www.kew.org/
Kew Science: https://www.kew.org/science
About Kew Science
Kew Science is the driving force behind RBG Kew’s mission to understand and protect plants and fungi, for the well-being of people and the future of all life on Earth. Over 300 Kew scientists work with partners in more than 100 countries worldwide to halt biodiversity loss, uncover secrets of the natural world, and to conserve and restore the extraordinary diversity of plants and fungi. Kew’s Science Strategy 2021–2025 lays out five scientific priorities to aid these goals: research into the protection of biodiversity through Ecosystem Stewardship, understanding the variety and evolution of traits in plants and fungi through Trait Diversity and Function; digitising and sharing tools to analyse Kew’s scientific collections through Digital Revolution; using new technologies to speed up the naming and characterisation of plants through Accelerated Taxonomy; and cultivating new scientific and commercial partnerships in the UK and globally through Enhanced Partnerships. One of Kew’s greatest international collaborations is the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, which has to date stored more than 2.4 billion seeds of over 40,000 wild species of plants across the globe. In 2020, Kew scientists estimated in the State of the World’s Plants and Fungi report that 2 in 5 plants globally are threatened with extinction.
Please note: this press release was developed in partnership with Defra and the Forestry Commission.