Ambitious plans to plant thousands of new trees in Somerset have received a £300,000 funding boost.
Planting significant numbers of new trees is a key part of Somerset’s Climate Emergency Strategy to help the county achieve its ambition of becoming net zero by 2030.
However, this isn’t as simple as just finding some spare land and putting saplings in the ground. You need to identify appropriate sites and species, develop planting and design proposals, and consult widely on the plans.
Therefore, Somerset County Council is pleased to announce it has been successful in a joint funding bid with the Exmoor National Park Authority to the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund (WCAF) and has been awarded £300,000 – the maximum amount possible.
Cllr Sarah Dyke, Somerset County Council Executive Lead Member for Climate Change and the Environment said: “We know planting trees has huge environmental and ecological benefits and we are fully committed to delivering on our ambitions to see many more trees thriving in Somerset.
“It’s important we plant trees and create new woodland in a sustainable way, supporting local nature recovery, promoting health and wellbeing, and taking into account factors like disease, climate resilience and the local economy.
“We’re delighted our WCAF bid has been successful, and we will now look to find the right people with the right skills to turn our vision of a greener Somerset into reality.”
The WCAF funding will be used to fund a new Tree Project Officer, a Community Empowerment Officer, and a Technical Officer over a three-year period.
They will help accelerate the delivery of tree planting in the winter seasons 2023/24 and 2024/25 and deliver on the actions set out in the Somerset Tree Strategy that is nearing completion.
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority, added: “We urgently need to increase tree cover on Exmoor but need to ensure we get the right tree in the right place for the right reason.
“By thinking at scale over the whole county with the support offered by the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund we can be confident of better outcomes for nature, climate, and the economy, whilst protecting the National Park’s special qualities”
This latest funding builds on previous success that saw Somerset awarded £189,975 in 2021 from the Local Authority Treescapes Fund. This has funded the planting of 800 standard trees and 2,500 whips through the combined efforts of Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West & Taunton Council, and South Somerset District Council.
For more information on work to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Somerset, visit the Climate Emergency website (somerset.gov.uk).