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Article by Caroline Knight | 4th August 2019

Why We Need Trees

The £10 million challenge is on to plant more than one million urban trees by 2022.

Never have trees been so prominent on the national agenda – unless you are able to remember the Plant a Tree in ’73 scheme some 46 years ago. With so many “imported” diseases now seriously affecting trees in the UK, there are huge concerns about tree loss.

The Climate Change Committee Report places tree planting at the top of the agenda in order to attempt to reduce the country’s contributions to climate change. Ash dieback, for example, is expected to cost the UK around £7 billion over the next 10 years. So, the government has announced a new £10 million fund to plant more than 130,000 urban trees. The grants, via the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, will be made available over the next two years with a target to plant one million urban trees by 2022.

Trees store carbon, absorb pollution, take up rainwater thereby helping to reduce flood risk, block out noise, lower temperatures through shade and help to improve health and wellbeing. Indeed, some enlightened medical doctors are now engaged in the practice of “social prescribing”, which is a growing movement in the NHS. It is centred around the notion that being with trees and connecting with nature, including gardening, is hugely beneficial to the mind and body.

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund

Back in May, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove announced the launch of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, which is administered by the Forestry Commission. It is open to individuals, local authorities, charities and NGOs, and not only does the grant fund the planting of trees but also the first three years of their care. “We need trees lining the streets of our cities and towns, not only to green and shade them, but to ensure that we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world and the health and wellbeing benefits that it brings us,” urged Mr Gove.

The scheme intends to support projects that deliver environmental and social benefits, while the grant requires match funding from those who apply.

• Visit gov.uk and search for Urban Tree Challenge Fund Application.

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