Heart of England Forest and ‘#Defra Heart of England: growing momentum, capacity, skills, and trees’ has been awarded a grant from the £6 million Trees Call to Action Fund.
The fund is led by Defra, the Forestry Commission and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
In partnership with Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick, and Wychavon District Councils, the Heart of England Forest will lead this three year project to engage with landowners and local communities to increase tree cover across the landscape. Working together to identify suitable areas for trees to be planted, facilitate tree planting, and support woodland maintenance, new woodlands will be created that benefit the environment, boost biodiversity, and provide havens for communities to enjoy.
As we grow the level of tree cover then more skilled people are needed to plant and maintain the new woods. The project will create four full-time roles, in addition to four forestry apprenticeships, and will provide training for local volunteers, increasing the number of people with the requisite skills and ensuring sustainability of these new woodlands.
The Trees Call to Action Fund support projects which protect trees and woodlands, boost forestry skills and jobs, develop woodland creation partnerships, and engage communities with nature. The fund will distribute grants between £250,000-500,000 to be spent over three years, funding 12 projects across England.
Beth Brook, Chief Executive at the Heart of England Forest, said “We are delighted to receive this grant which will provide a springboard for practical partnership work, building on our long-term strategic plans. Through our partnership, we will grow momentum within communities and landowners towards creating an environment with more trees, where people understand the wider benefits of woodland and can enjoy them, where we restore lost skills and lost landscapes, and look to a future where forests are once more at the heart of England.”
Cllr Ian Shenton, Climate Change Portfolio Holder for Stratford District Council said: “To say I am very pleased that we were successful with our bid, against strong representation from other applicants, is an understatement. Not only does it give us the chance to do more to increase and protect our trees and woodlands, but it also shows the benefit of partnership working. Trees, as we all know, are essential not only for removing and storing CO2, but also for their life giving properties of producing oxygen, giving shade, encouraging biodiversity and shelter, homes, and food for wildlife. We must do as much as we can so that future generations can enjoy the beauty of our natural woodlands and forests that provide so many benefits for all of us.”
Councillor Alan Rhead, Warwick District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Climate Change commented: “Receipt of this funding is a real boost for our ambitious ‘Trees for our Future’ campaign and will allow us to facilitate a number of projects in our local community helping us to meet our target of planting 160,000 new trees by 2030, one for every resident living in our district.”
Cllr Tony Rowley, Executive Board Member for Climate Change, Environmental Policy and Regulatory Services on Wychavon District Council, said: “This is a major step forward in delivering on our climate change targets and our promise to restore and improve our natural habitat. This is an ambitious large-scale project that will develop a plan for the woodlands of the future that supports green jobs and gives young people vital traditional woodland management skills. I’m delighted that partnership working with the Heart of England Forest, colleagues in Warwickshire and our communities, is at the heart of this project.”
The other projects funded through this year’s Trees Call to Action Fund include six new Woodland Creation Partnerships across rural and urban areas; two projects to develop the skills and workforce of the trees and forestry sector; and three projects which engage people, by planting an NHS forest, engaging farmers to improve woodland condition, and restoring England’s hedgerows. All projects funded will support progress towards achieving the key objectives of the England Trees Action Plan – the Government’s long-term plans for England’s trees, woodlands, and forests.