Government announces 16 million funding for Forest Research programme

27/11/2023

Government announces £16 million funding for Forest Research programme

The Government has announced £16 million of funding for the Forest Research programme looking into climate and pest resilient woodlands.

A competition for a new national forest will also be launched this week, alongside the unveiling of two new community forests.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the increased risk of tree disease and pests, such as ips beetles and ash dieback, alongside the impacts of climate change meant the habitats for thousands of species of wildlife were threatened.

The funding will support vital research into ways to mitigate and prevent these impacts and the continued planting of more trees.

This includes studying the complex networks of soil nutrients and plant roots, the natural self- planting of tree seeds and agroforestry, where trees and agricultural crops grow on the same piece of land.

The Forest Research programme backs 30 projects working with 27 partner organisations, while supporting efforts to increase England’s tree canopy.

Forestry Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Not only do we need to plant trees, for tomorrow, we also need to support their long-term protection from the host of threats they face due a changing climate.

“Today we are investing a further £16 million in vital research to help support the resilience of our trees and woodland as part of our ambitious plans to increase tree planting across the country.”

Sir William Worsley, Forestry Commission chairman, said: “Trees can only help mitigate the impact of a changing climate if they are resilient to those challenges themselves.

“Forest Research will be vital to supporting tree planting activity through building the evidence base to inform and improve our management of trees and selection of resilient species for the future to increase woodland cover for future generations.”

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay will also launch a competition for a new national forest this week, with the winning location receiving up to £10 million of funding.

Communities will be able to put their local areas forward, with applicants assessed on how the new forest would transform the local area, create habitats for wildlife and help the country meet net zero targets.

Successful bids will be announced by autumn 2024.

Two new community forests will be unveiled in Derbyshire and the Tees Valley, which will see around 370 hectares of woodland planted by 2025.

The announcements are part of a Government package aimed at helping people across the country access nature and support nature recovery.

Mr Barclay said: “Public access to nature is so vital, which is why we pledged in our Environmental Improvement Plan that everyone should have access to green space or water within a 15-minute walk from their home – such as woodlands, wetlands, parks or rivers.

“This new forest for the nation will help make that happen.

“As a former health secretary, I have seen the benefits that nature has for people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

“Bringing these spaces closer to where people live and work is a key priority for me personally.”

Defra’s England Trees Action Plan and Environmental Improvement Plan set out targets to treble tree planting rates by the end of the current Parliament and to achieve at least 16.5% of tree and woodland cover by 2050.

Published: by Radio NewsHub



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