Two years on and the Government’s £4 million Big Tree Plant has seen over 239,000 trees planted across the country with £3.4 million of the funding already allocated to 128 groups, who will be planting more than 813,000 trees.
The Big Tree Plant, launched by Defra and the Forestry Commission in 2010, is supported by a number of partner organisations and will see a million new trees planted predominantly in towns, cities and neighbourhoods by 2015.
On a visit to the Mount Stewart Junior School in Kenton, David Heath MP, Minister for Forestry met with Year 4 students planting fruit trees with Trees for Cities.
David Heath said:
“The Big Tree Plant is an opportunity for everyone to help make neighbourhoods attractive and healthy places to live. It’s wonderful to see young people learning to plant and care for trees.
“The Big Tree Plant has been embraced by communities across the country and has proved to be a highly successful partnership between Government, civil society partners and conservation organisations including Trees for Cities.
“Seventy percent of trees in The Big Tree Plant programme will be planted in England’s most deprived areas.”
The planting at Mount Stewart Junior School is part of the London-wide Trees for Cities project which received £240,000 funding from the Big Tree Plant. The project aims to plant 40,000 trees across London over four years. These trees will enhance the quality of life for local people providing places to grow food and escape the stresses of city life.
Sharon Johnson, Trees for Cities Chief Executive Officer said:
“The Big Tree Plant has given us a wonderful opportunity to plant fruit trees in schools and other urban spaces as part of our Trees for Food programme. One of the most important things schools can do is to teach children to grow their own food, helping children to understand where food comes from and how to produce it.
“Our Trees for Food programme has wider implications on the surrounding community who are encouraged to get involved and receive training so that they then have the skills to plant their own trees on estates and other derelict and deprived urban locations.”
While making towns and cities more attractive places to live and work, Big Tree Plant trees are also creating new copses, supporting wildlife conservation, flood reduction through riverbank planting and helping to cool cities by reducing temperatures. More than one in ten trees being planted are creating new orchards to grow fruit so community groups can grow their own food and make jams, pickles and chutneys.
Due to the popularity of campaign, March 2013 is likely to be the final opportunity for communities to apply for the remaining share of funding from the Forestry Commission.
Mark Durk, Head of the Big Tree Plant for the Forestry Commission said:
“With only £600,000 of funding still to be allocated, now is the time to start planning your Big Tree Plant project with the next round of funding applications closing on the 15 March 2013.
“The level of motivation from partners and volunteers to make the programme a success has been astounding.”
Details of the Big Tree Plant can be found at: www.forestry.gov.uk/england-bigtreeplant
The campaign has the support of major bodies, environmental charities and agencies including Department for Communities and Local Government, England’s Community Forests, Forestry Commission, The Greater London Authority, Groundwork, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, The Local Government Association (LGA), Mayor of London, The National Forest, Natural England, Tree Council, Trees for Cities, The Conservation Volunteers and Woodland Trust.
Trees for Cities is an independent charity, which inspires people to plant and love trees worldwide. Set up as Trees for London in 1993, Trees for Cities’ aim is to create social cohesion and beautify our cities through tree planting, community-led design, education and training initiatives in urban areas that need it most. For more information about Trees for Cities visit www.treesforcities.org.