Two thousand hectares of new woodland will be created through the planting of four million trees as part of a £30millon government investment in the next financial year.
Two hundred thousand hectares of existing woodland will also be protected or improved as part of the investment. This will support landowners – including charities, local authorities and businesses – in their commitment to planting and maintaining the country’s woodland.
Woodland planting will create jobs and long term growth opportunities for forestry companies. The forestry industry makes a significant contribution to the rural economy in England, with the industry providing £230 million GVA in 2010, an increase of 52% since 2008.
Dan Rogerson, Minister for Forestry, said:
Forests are a cherished national resource, which provide precious habitats for wildlife and natural spaces for generations to enjoy. Planting four million trees over the coming year will help us to extend woodland cover which will benefit wildlife, improve the environment and help grow the economy.
New forests hold economic, as well as environmental and social benefits, enabling the forestry businesses to create more jobs and play an increasing role in the nation’s economic recovery.
This investment will be split between £6 million on new planting in 2014/15, £24 million on woodland management, including maintaining the benefits of past woodland creation projects.
Many of the trees planted this year will grow for up to 60 years before being sustainably felled for timber, and all will be managed long-term for nature. Trees also provide myriad environmental benefits, including supporting climate change adaptation and clean water initiatives, and protecting land against floods.
The Government’s investment in woodland will continue well beyond this financial year. From 2015, the new Rural Development Programme will look to further fund the creation and maintenance of woodland. Tree planting grants are planned from 2015. Defra and the Forestry Commission will work closely with interested parties on what this could involve.