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  • England to Plant 130,000 Trees

England to Plant 130,000 Trees

Jun 28 2019 Read 505 Times

UK environment secretary Michael Gove has announced that the government will provide funding to plant 130,000 trees in urban environments across England over the next two years. Nicknamed the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), the scheme is being undertaken by the Forestry Commission and will aim to plant 20,000 large trees and 110,00 small trees in towns and cities in England.

It is hoped that the incentive will help alleviate carbon emissions and have a mitigating effect on global warming. There are a number of fringe benefits associated with having trees in towns and cities which the government also aims to benefit from. Applications are open to individuals, charities, municipal authorities and non-government organisations.

The effects of urban foliage

Due to the ability of trees to absorb and store carbon, they can play a crucial role in reducing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere and offsetting the harmful effects of industrial activity. They are also able to reduce noise pollution, minimise the risk of flooding and provide shaded areas in summer, as well as boosting the overall health and well-being of those living in their vicinity.

There are occasions when trees can actually be a hindrance rather than a help to the environment, however. If the wrong species with too dense foliage are selected or if the trees are planted at inopportune spots in the cityscape, they can obstruct the movement of contaminants and prevent their dispersal. This can lead to an accumulation of unwanted pollution in a specific area, with nowhere for it to go.

Of course, the benefits of planting trees in an urban environment far outweigh their drawbacks when managed properly. All that is required is for adequate planning and forethought to go into their layout, which the Forestry Commission will surely make a priority with the UTCF initiative.

Enhancing the urban environment

Given that traffic fumes comprise the biggest single contributing factor to urban air pollution, pursuing environmentally-friendly forms of road transportation are the best long-term strategy for tackling the problem. However, planting trees can provide an immediate and short-term benefit, which is why the government has launched their scheme.

Taking place over two years, the scheme will only be initially open to those submitting block bids, which refers to a single bid encompassing multiple projects or activities. In the second year, it will be opened up to individual applications, although all applicants, regardless of whether they belong to a charity, local authority or are acting alone, can only receive a subsidy of 50% of the total cost of planting and caring for the trees for the first three years of their life.

“We need trees lining our streets, not only to green and shade them but to ensure we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates,” explained Gove when discussing the incentive.

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