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Urban Tree Challenge Fund launched and new report on bee populations and climate change

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Urban Tree Challenge Fund launched

Picture of a blue sky appearing through the tops of leafy trees.

There has been widespread coverage over the weekend in publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Sky News on the launch of our Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

The new £10 million scheme will see more than 130,000 trees planted across England’s towns and cities and is open to individuals, local authorities, charities and NGOs. Grants will be administered by the Forestry Commission and fund the planting of trees and the first three years of their care so they can flourish into the future.

This forms part of the government’s commitment to plant one million urban trees by 2022 and sits alongside our wider work to expand England’s woodland.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates.

We need trees lining the streets of our cities and towns, not only to green and shade them but to ensure that we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world and the health and wellbeing benefits that it brings us.

Trees in urban areas improve health and wellbeing, connect people with the outdoors, absorb noise, reduce flood risk, lower temperatures through shading, and create green spaces for communities to come together.

Government Tree Champion Sir William Worsley said:

Trees are the lifeblood of our nation, and it is more important than ever to ensure they are rooted not only in our countryside, but in our towns and cities too.

The benefits of planting urban trees are endless, and I encourage anyone with the ability to apply for this fund to get involved and help green our towns and cities.

Forestry Commission Chair Sir Harry Studholme said:

I am delighted the Forestry Commission have been asked to deliver the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. The fund is an important part of the work that the Forestry Commission is doing to expand England’s tree and woodland cover.

It allows us to plant more trees much closer to where people live and work, and where the many benefits of trees make the most difference. We look forward to lots of new planting happening this Autumn.

The grant will be delivered as a challenge fund, and therefore requires match funding from those who apply. It will open for applications later this week.

Bee populations and climate change

A bee standing on a purple flower.

This is widespread coverage today following a new report, from the environmental groups WWF and Buglife, looking at climate change and bee population numbers across the UK.

The Daily Express, the Independent, the Times, Press Association, the Sun and the Guardian cover the report, which largely focuses on the east of England, and how factors including climate change, habitat loss, pollution and disease are pushing some bees species to extinction.

A Defra spokesperson said:

We are working hard to support our bees and other pollinators - as these species are essential for pollinating crops and in turn human survival.

Through our 25 Year Environment Plan, we have already committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network to protect and restore wildlife, and our Biodiversity and National Pollinator strategies have helped to create over 130,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat.

Furthermore the Bees Needs campaign brings together conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers to promote good practical advice so we can all do more to provide suitable habitats for bees and other insects.

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