Thames Chase Community Forest receives major planting boost under Trees for Climate

Thames Chase Community Forest will benefit from a national £12.1 million Trees for Climate plan creating 500 hectares of new woodland by 2021

In the next five months, Thames Chase will be one of the ten England’s Community Forests across the country planting trees, in a push to help deliver the English portion of the Government’s commitment to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares per year, across the UK, by 2025 alongside peatland restoration and nature recovery.

In total, the trees to be planted across winter 2020 and into 2021 will eventually store over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and will also help in making local landscapes more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

For people in London and Essex the delivery programmes will offer a wide range of added benefits, unique to community forestry, including community engagement. 

These new ‘climate-combatting’ woodlands across England will appear around towns and cities and will also build the pipeline of projects for community planting in future years. 

Thames Chase Trust is a key partner in this new programme called Trees for Climate which is being delivered by the network of ten Community Forests that span the country, from Yorkshire to Somerset. An initial £12.1m of grant funding for the first planting session in 2020/21 has been secured from the Government’s Nature for Climate fund.

The funding will also create new jobs and secure existing ones within the forestry sector and open up new opportunities for people seeking a career in the environment sector. 

Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said: “Through this exciting new programme we will build back greener, as more communities - particularly those in urban environments – will have access to nature, with real benefits for health and wellbeing.

“Trees are the backbone of our urban and rural environments and essential in tackling the climate emergency. This vital programme will plant trees where they are most needed to stem flooding and provide more places for nature to thrive.”

Dave Bigden, Consultant Forest Director for Thames Chase Trust, said: “Thames Chase Trust is delighted to be part of this national initiative, involving all ten Community Forests working together in partnership. The creation of new woodlands, combined with the increase in management of existing woodlands, will bring significant improvements in the recreational, amenity and biodiversity values of Thames Chase Community Forest. It will continue and expand the work we have been delivering with our partners since the inception of the Forest in 1990. 

“Trees for Climate will help the Thames Chase Trust and its partners to continue to drive this vital work forward. This scheme aligns with the aims and objectives of the Thames Chase Plan and the tree planting will support the Trust’s vision to create a mosaic landscape, rich in diverse habitat, created across the Thames Chase Community Forest.”

Thames Chase Trust will be working with partners and landowners to plant up to 8.5 hectares between December 2020 and March 2021.

Planting projects are being planned in each of our five local authority areas with sites in Brentwood, Thurrock, Havering, Barking & Dagenham, and Essex.

Trees for Climate will help deliver against the goals in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and support Nature Recovery Networks across England. It has been supported by The Community Forest Trust and is being delivered through Cheshire West and Chester Council, the accountable organisation for the programme.

As well as funding the tree planting activity itself, the grant will enable each of the Community Forests to manage all aspects of the new woodland creation carefully, including community and landowner engagement as well as developing new approaches to long-term woodland management, greater levels of sustainability, and finding innovative new models of woodland delivery that may help to shape the future of community forestry forever.

Extensive planning is already underway to ensure Trees for Climate starts to be delivered during the current tree planting season, which runs from November 2020 through to March 2021. More than 6,000 hectares of land has already been identified as suitable for planting, over the next five planting seasons to March 2025.  

Tree planting at Berwick Glades, a restored former quarry in Thames Chase Community Forest. Photo: Forestry England

There are still opportunities for landowners to get in touch with their local Community Forest to see if the land they have is suitable for the programme.

Through Trees for Climate more communities in towns and cities will get access to nature, proven to boost health and wellbeing and giving children living in urban areas a chance to explore the natural environment.

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