Mass tree-planting programme launched as part of efforts to tackle climate change
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The government has launched a programme to plant 2,300 hectares of trees across England as part of plans to diversify woodlands and make them more resilient to climate change.
The areas will help the UK adapt to a warmer world, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said, as well as natural hazards such as wildfires and storms.
The woodlands could also help to reduce ﬂood risk in vulnerable areas while providing sustainable UK-grown timber.
England’s 13 Community Forests, including the Humber and Mersey Forests as well as partners including the Northern Forest and Great Northumberland Forest, are all set to benefit from the funding.
Defra estimates that the planting announced today will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050, valued at nearly £100m, as well as create jobs in the forestry and environmental sectors.
“As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse treescapes across the country and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep,” said forestry minister Lord Zac Goldsmith.
The announcement comes a week after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a £3.1m tree planting package which was also designed to future-proof London against the impacts of climate change.
Sir William Worsley, forestry commission chair, said: “The social, environmental and economic benefits of being in woodlands are well-documented, helping local communities to be happier, healthier and more pleasant places to live.
“It is a personal mission of mine to make sure as many people as possible get to experience these benefits. This funding will ensure we plant trees in areas close to where people live, as well as providing job opportunities in new woodland creation through planting, establishing and managing trees.”
Researchers have previously warned that forests can be a risky way to offset the production of greenhouse gas emissions.
While trees are capable of storing carbon in their trunks and roots, which helps to lower the concentrations of carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere. The impact of climate change such as severe droughts or wildfires could see much of that stored carbon quickly released back into the atmosphere.
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