44,000 trees to be planted as Urban Tree Challenge Fund reopens

Thousands of trees will be planted near schools, healthcare centres and in areas with fewer trees and higher social deprivation, as the Urban Tree Challenge Fund has reopened for applications, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the Forestry Commission announced today (May 10)

Across the country 44,000 large trees will be planted in towns and cities. These trees will support areas to improve health and wellbeing and help connect people to the outdoors.

Evidence from Forest Research shows the majority of adults surveyed agreed that their level of happiness when in nature has increased compared to before the pandemic.

The new trees will also play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, supporting the UK’s journey to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and commitment to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000ha of trees a year by 2025.

This announcement comes ahead of the government setting out its wider plans on how it intends to deliver on its tree planting commitment.

A new action plan for trees and woodland will be published shortly to outline how government will plant new high-quality, well-managed trees and woodlands and improve the condition and resilience of existing ones.

Reopening of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund has reopened following the success of the first two rounds where a combined total of up to 134,000 new trees will be planted across England’s towns and cities.

Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

“I am delighted to announce the reopening of this hugely successful fund, made possible by £6 million from our Nature for Climate Fund.

Ahead of our forthcoming ambitious action plan for trees, woodland and forestry, and to complement our manifesto ambition to have every new street lined with trees, the Urban Tree Challenge Fund provides a fantastic example of how trees can be planted, managed and enjoyed to provide the greatest impact – in areas where they are needed most.

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said:

“The pandemic has shown us just how important trees and nature are, wherever you live.

“Through targeting funding toward areas where they will have the biggest benefits, including near healthcare and educational facilities, this fund will deliver increased benefits for health and wellbeing, as well as contributing towards the government’s ambition to increase woodland creation across England.”