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Funding boost for community forest

An image of new trees in a field - credit to Chris Parkes Photography

Tens of thousands of trees will be planted in Plymouth and South Devon this winter thanks to the latest round of government funding.

The Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest has been allocated over £1.1m in funding by Defra to plant trees and create new woodlands under plans to increase access to nature for communities across England. 

The funding will enable the community forest to purchase and plant trees across more than 30 sites in Plymouth this Winter, as well as supporting many communities across South Devon to enhance their own green canopy through grant funding and additional help in designing woodlands.  

As announced last summer, the Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest will stretch from the heart of the city to the edge of the moor, encompassing 1,900 hectares of land to form a mosaic of different forest habitats.

Unlike traditional forests, the community forest won't be geographically restricted to one place. Instead, it will encompass a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.

Councillor Bill Wakeham, Cabinet member for the Environment and Street Scene, said: “The community forest is such a wonderful project, and I am delighted that we have managed to secure this latest round of funding.

“Planting the right trees in the right places is crucial in our fight towards becoming carbon neutral and I look forward to seeing mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

South Hams District Council’s Leader, Cllr Judy Pearce, said: “I’m really pleased that the community forest is seeing further investment into planting trees and enhancing green canopies for communities across South Devon. This will improve the wellbeing of both the people who live around these woodlands and the animals who reside in these essential habitats.”

Toby Fox, Assistant Director of operations for the National Trust in the South West added: "Trees and woods are good for both people and for wildlife and they also help to address the climate and nature emergency. I am delighted that Plymouth has been able to secure more funding to give more people access to nature.”

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Forestry Minister, said: “Our economies, livelihoods and well-being all rely on nature.

“As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse treescapes across the country and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep.”

Across the country around 2,300 hectares of trees – equivalent to around 3,220 football pitches - will be planted as part of this year’s total funding allocation from the Nature for Climate Fund of £44.2 million. 

These projects will expand woodlands near cities, towns, villages and rivers - giving more people greater access to nature and improving health and wellbeing as well as playing an important role in Government ambitions to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and reach net zero.

Large, small, well-designed and diverse woodlands created thanks to this funding will be more resilient to climate change, as well as natural hazards such as wildfire and storms – playing an important role in helping us adapt to a warmer world. 

They will also help to reduce flood risk in vulnerable areas, provide sustainable UK grown timber and provide more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive.

The Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest is a partnership between Plymouth City Council, National Trust, Woodland Trust, South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council, and is funded through the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs’ Nature for Climate fund.

Photo credit: Chris Parkes Photography