Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund supports councils to make local communities greener
The Woodland Trust, the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK, has delivered a major boost for communities across Northern Ireland by providing much needed grant funding to help councils tackle climate change.
The money is being delivered from the charity’s Emergency Tree Fund (ETF) which was set up in 2021 to encourage local councils to make trees a central part of their policies and boost tree cover.
This year’s funding will help more local councils create new nurseries and plant trees, while tackling the problems of climate change.
Perhaps this initiative will find its way through Newry Mourne and Down District Council and Ards and North Down Borough Council to see more trees planted across the county.
The funding is from the charity’s Emergency Tree Fund following £2.1 million of support from Amazon’s Right Now Climate Fund.
Grants will be awarded to local authorities across the United Kingdom, planting 450,000 trees and creating green spaces in local communities most impacted by pollution and with least access to nature.
The Woodland Trust Emergency Tree Fund is one of the first projects in the UK receiving support through Amazon’s $100 million Right Now Climate Fund.
With €20 million committed to projects across the UK and Europe, the fund has been set up to conserve, restore and improve forests, wetlands and grasslands, protecting wildlife habitats, biodiversity and quality of life for communities.
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, with aims to create new native woodland and protect and restore precious ancient woodland.
With under 9% tree cover, Northern Ireland has the least tree cover in Europe.
With support from the Amazon Right Now Climate Fund, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have been awarded £297,700. Their Climate Canopy 4 – Million Trees project will plant 400 hectares of trees to develop woodland connectivity and increase canopy cover throughout the borough.
Particular attention will be paid to ancient woodland which will be highlighted with increased protection, promotion and better management of existing trees.
The project also aims to replant neglected hedgerows and rejuvenate existing hedgerows, creating a minimum of 5km of native hedgerows per year.
Earlier this year, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council secured £299,999 from the Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund.
Their plans to establish a sustainable native tree nursery are already underway with over 250,000 seeds already sown.
The council will establish a tree planting community outreach initiative to connect 16 fragmented habitats and communities along the Lagan Valley.
There are plans to increase tree cover through a woodland creation program, to map ancient woodland and restore ancient woodland through invasive species removal.
In 2021 Belfast City Council received £289,585 from the conservation charity’s Emergency Tree Fund, supporting their ambitious plans to plant one million trees.
Following the success of the flagship project, two additional councils in Northern Ireland, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, have benefitted from this year’s funding.
Dr Darren Moorcroft, the Woodland Trust’s Chief Executive, said this funding will help local authorities overcome barriers which prevent them from taking action, through using trees and woods, to help address the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss.
He said: “With the droughts this year, it has shown us it has never been more important to look at how we adapt to the changing climate in this country.
“A key part of this will be planting more trees and protecting what we have for the many benefits they bring.
“They help purify our air, cool our towns and cities, make land more resilient to combating flooding and enhancing well-being.
“Whilst we can plant and protect trees on our land, we cannot tackle this alone and it needs to be done in a strategic way across large areas.
“This funding, thanks to generous support from Amazon, gets to the heart of the matter by targeting councils. With so many financial strains it can be tough for them to take action in this area.
“The Emergency Tree Fund will give them the tools to create and plan for more woodland, combining our expertise in unlocking land for woodland creation and management – making a difference to people’s lives on a large scale.”
Zak Watts, Director of Europe Sustainability, Amazon, said: “The Woodland Trust has a history of science-based and community-focused work that has a meaningful and lasting impact on biodiversity in the UK, which is why we have chosen to support them as one of our first UK Right Now Climate Fund commitments”, said
“Alongside co-founding the Climate Pledge in 2019 and making a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040, we are making significant contributions to nature-based nature-based solutions to supplement our own carbon-reduction efforts and help restore and preserve the natural world.
“We are proud to support the charity’s Emergency Tree Fund and look forward seeing 450,000 more trees planted in local authorities across the UK.”
The Woodland Trust continues to support Belfast City Council and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council funded projects as they implement their plans.
Mid & East Antrim Borough Council’s project will begin to roll out over the next few weeks.
For more information on the Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund see:
The Woodland Trust, which has over 1200 sites and was established in 1972, has three key aims:
i) protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable,
ii) ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,
iii) iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
In Northern Ireland the Woodland Trust cares for 50 woods. These woods contain a mix of recently planted woodland, mature woodland and ancient woodland.
Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.