Congratulating the winner and outlining the 'Trees and Wildlife' theme of this years Esso National Tree Week Mr Clappison said:
'I am pleased to be able to announce new funding for yet another forestry project. One of the six winners in the second round of Rural Challenge is the Weald Woodnet Partnership. This partnership, led by East Sussex CC, will receive £1m from the Rural Development Commission towards a new Woodland Enterprise Centre in the High Weald in Sussex. The total private and public sector investment in the project will be over £3m.
'Sussex has a rich, but often neglected, legacy of broadleaved woodland. The aim of this centre is to promote new market opportunities for sustainable forestry.
'I am sure that this project will act as a catalyst in East Sussex and bring many areas of woodland back into management. This will create new jobs; enhance the environment; and help, albeit in a small way, to reduce our dependence on imported hardwoods. Much of the woodland in England is neglected, wasting a valuable renewable resource. The Woodland Enterprise Centre will help to address this problem.
'Esso Tree Week is a genuinely national event. At the last count there were over 3,000 events planned across the country. The theme for the Week is Trees and Wildlife in support of the European Nature Conservation Year. I cannot think of a more appropriate way to mark the Year. I am pleased to say that my department has been associated with Tree Week since its inception. It has been a vital part of our partnership with the Tree Council. I applaud Esso for their generous sponsorship of the Week, through their wider Esso Living Tree Campaign.'
- The Woodland Enterprise Centre is based in the East Sussex Rural Development Area. It will be sited in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The partnership is led by East Sussex CC, and includes 14 other organisations representing forestry, business, training and community interests. The Rural Challenge funding of £1m will be matched by £2.21m, including £1.78m from the private sector.