ALMOST £150,000 has been awarded to Portsmouth City Council to boost its tree planting efforts.

The Forestry Commission grant will cover the costs of employing two new full-time employees – a project officer and an engagement officer – to support efforts to increase tree cover by almost 15 per cent over the next three years.

The money has been awarded through the woodland creation accelerator fund aimed at giving English local authorities the staff required to manage tree planting projects.

READ MORE: Forestry minister pledges to uphold UK's planting targets

‘The key aim of the fund is to enable more trees to be planted, particularly in the winter seasons 2023/24 and 2024/25,’ a council report said. ‘Authorities have identified tree and woodland planting as a key part of their response to the climate change and biodiversity crises.

‘A lack of capacity to develop and design proposals, to consult widely, apply for grants and organise planting have been identified as key barriers to progress.’

Through the Portsmouth greening strategy, the council has already drawn up plans to plant 200 trees and 4,200 whips at housing estates this winter.

It said this funding would allow it to expand planting on its land and to work with private organisations to do the same.

A target had been set for 660 trees and 2,900 whips next winter with a further 481 trees and 16,188 whips the following winter.

The council said this would increase ‘overall canopy cover’ by 14 per cent. The city has an estimated 9.8 per cent tree canopy cover, compared to the 16 per cent average for towns and cities in England.