This week I met with the Minister David Rutley, responsible for forests and woodland, following a question in Parliament which I put to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove MP, seeking his support for communities who want to plant trees to improve air quality and the natural environment. To help to address harmful emissions, millions of extra trees are needed, and the Government has two schemes that help community tree-planting initiatives;
- The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is supporting the Woodland Trust with the ‘Trees for Schools’ scheme. This allows schools to apply for tree bundles of up to as many as 400 trees, to plant on their grounds or on surrounding grounds, with a landowner's permission. Whilst providing all the necessary information on preparing the ground, planting the trees and post maintenance, already many local schools have already taken up this challenge and are now living and learning among the growing trees, planting by themselves. More information and the application form can be found of their website.
- The second is a recent initiative is The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF). The UTCF as launched by minister Rutley and has been developed in response to releasing £10 million in the 2018 Autumn Budget announcement for planting at least 20,000 large trees and 110,000 small trees in urban areas in England and will support several objectives in DEFRA’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The scheme is open to anyone who wants to plant trees in urban or peri-urban areas ‘as long, as you have full management control or consent to use the land for the duration of your agreement and your planting location is within an urban area’. The closing date is 28th July 2019 and the scheme will run for 2 years. I know that Cornwall Council is keen to see trees planted and as part of the commitment to Carbon Free Cornwall I urge the Council not to miss this opportunity. It’s not the whole solution. My suggestion week No. 9 is that Cornwall Council ramps up its engagement with the Forestry Commission (who are mapping all the possible locations suitable for tree planting) and enables community tree planting initiatives across the Duchy. To find out more about the Urban Tree Challenge Fund which is relevant to our large towns click here.
With both tree planting schemes in mind, in my own constituency we are commencing a project that you can be involved in yourself. Woodland 2020 is our tree planting project, aspiring to boost tree numbers and our local environment by planting 20,000 trees across the West-Penwith peninsula in 2020. We are aiming to help battle air pollution in our local area and are working towards the goal of reducing our carbon footprint and becoming carbon neutral by 2030. By incorporating local schools, councils and communities, we aim to create a positive legacy to be reflected upon by everyone as the trees grow and flourish, creating an additional benefit to living in our beautiful south west ecosystem.
If you live within the constituency and have accessible and available land that could be used for tree planting, please do get in touch! On the other hand, if you’re not from within West-Penwith, why not write to your own MP and share your thoughts with the help of these funded tree planting schemes.