PROJECTS that tackle some of the greatest threats to our trees and forests will get a boost from government funding, it has been announced today.

A total of £20 million has been set aside for schemes that "modernise the industry", including one that addresses labour shortages in the nursery sector with technology and another that is creating a management plant to combat the threat of grey squirrels to the England's woodlands. 

Alongside this, 57 local authorities have received nearly £10m in funding through the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund to kickstart tree planting activity, create new green jobs and boost access to nature, such as by employing new staff to access the professional expertise needed to drive tree planting and woodland creation activity at a local level.

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

Trudy Harrison, forestry minister, said: “Our trees, forests and woodlands are the nation’s lungs – filtering our air, capturing carbon, providing habitats and serving as a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.

"At a local level, trees are the lifeblood of communities, essential to supporting wellbeing, beautifying our streets and improving people’s quality of life while providing a safe haven for wildlife.   

“Protecting and restoring our precious natural world can work hand-in-hand with building a stronger, healthier economy. Using new technologies through these funds will build a bigger, better and more resilient forestry industry for the future, as we strive to deliver on our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”  

Successful applicants include:

  • the University of Lincoln’s ISILDUR project, which will work with tree nurseries to address labour shortages in the forest nursery sector by developing an intelligent robotics solution for plant processing;
  • the University of Cambridge’s TIMBER project, which is designing and creating prototypes for new building materials to drive home-grown, low-carbon and long-lasting construction nationwide; 
  • Red Squirrel South West, which will be given funding to develop a management programme for invasive grey squirrels across a 35-mile stretch of native North Exmoor coastal woodland, helping to regenerate woodlands and supporting the reintroduction of native species like red squirrels.  

Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission, said: “These funds will unleash the potential of the forestry sector by championing nurseries, charities and businesses operating at the forefront of technological innovation.

"They will help more people across society get trees in the ground at an unprecedented pace and scale, whilst ensuring their resilience for future generations.  

“Through the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, local authorities have set out a range of inspiring and ambitious plans which equate to more than 10 million trees being planted on public land across England by 2025.

"The funding will turn these aspirations into results, marking a significant step forward in our collective efforts to increase tree planting rates in England." 

Like all nations in the UK, England continues to lag way behind its planting targets.

Also announced today, the Local Authority Treescapes Fund (LATF) and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) will reopen for new applications early in 2023.