Tree-funding models highlighted

Defra presented with report detailing new routes to establishing funding for trees and woodland.

Hospital grounds: NHS Forest project aims to plant 1.3 million trees - image: Ramsay Thomson
Hospital grounds: NHS Forest project aims to plant 1.3 million trees - image: Ramsay Thomson

Engagement with the private and voluntary sectors and with the NHS is providing new funding models to establish and manage trees and woodlands, according to a new report.

Grown in Britain by Dr Peter Bonfield assesses the Confor-led wood industry action plan. It is the result of engagement with more than 280 industry organisations, community groups, campaigners, wildlife and woodland trusts, professional bodies and Government.

It points out that cooperation between such stakeholders is already leading to environmental, social and health benefits in addition to wood production.

Already the NHS Forest has been founded with the goal of planting 1.3 million trees in the grounds of hospitals and health centres with the aim of improving recovery and well-being.

But "the concept is still not universal and is not high enough on the priority list of those responsible for hospital estates", the report states.

It adds that the idea of a Natural Health Service "extends to urban trees in our parks and on our streets that deliver multiple social, economic, environmental and well-being benefits".

A new framework has also been established that allows businesses to offset against their carbon by investing in woodland projects, it points out. "Although the first pioneering practical application relates to woodlands, this approach could be applied to a wide range of other important habitats."

Presenting the report to Defra minister Owen Paterson last week, Bonfield said: "We are collectively proud of what we have achieved in a very short period of time and this will act as a successful template for the future development of our treasured woodland assets."

Industry view

"We have been pointing out the connection between trees and well-being for a long time. It's being pursued on a number of levels and will be the theme of our conference next year. We are talking to a range of people on the periphery of arboriculture on this. There is also a lot of discussion of the corporate-responsibility angle. It can not only achieve practical aims, it also gives those companies something to shout about, so raising public awareness."

Simon Richmond, technical officer, Arboricultural Association.


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