A £4.2m scheme to plant a million trees over the next four years has been unveiled by the government.
The programme will see trees planted in urban areas that need them most in a bid to reverse declines in the rates in the number of trees being planted in towns and cities, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
The move marks the first government tree planting campaign since the 1970s, and will take place through a partnership between Defra, the Forestry Commission and organisations such as the Woodland Trust, Trees for Cities and the Tree Council.
The Forestry Commission will provide £1m a year over the next four years, while £200,000 of existing London Tree and Woodland Community Grant money will also go into the Big Tree Plant scheme.
Defra minister Jim Paice , left, said: “The Big Tree Plant will use the power of the Big Society to plant trees in areas where people want and need them.
“Using the enthusiasm of local communities and the knowledge of the groups that know most about trees and their unique benefits, we’ll help create neighbourhoods that we can be proud of.”
Griff Rhys Jones, president of Civic Voice which aims to make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive, said: “We all have a personal responsibility for where we live, and the Big Tree Plant is a great way for people to get together with their neighbours, civic society and local community groups to plant and care for more trees and improve the local environment for everyone.
“Plant a tree, change the future and the future will thank you for it.”
This planting season, existing funding is already going to NHS Forests to plant 65,000 trees across 25 sites, the Tree Council to plant more than 1,000 trees across four sites and Keep Britain Tidy to plant 100,000 trees across 750 sites.
Hilary Allison, policy director for the Woodland Trust said: “We welcome the government’s commitment through the new grant scheme to provide a real incentive for community groups in particular to improve their local environments by planting trees.