Urban forestry unit forced to close

Funding crisis brings end of NUFU after 10 years of promoting urban forests

A funding crisis has forced the National Urban Forestry Unit (NUFU) to close after 10 years of promoting the idea of urban and community forests. The unit was set up as a small charity with core government funding to promote urban greening and environmental renewal. Since 2001, however, NUFU’s work has been financed almost entirely through the unit’s own fee-earning activities and other non-government support. Board chairman David Ritchie said it had proved increasingly difficult for the unit to take the main responsibility for the task of championing the role of trees in towns. “A charity focused on strategic advocacy across all sectors needs the support of central government if it is to make the widespread impact that is needed,” he said. “Despite our strenuous efforts over the past four years, it has proved impossible to raise the resources necessary to finance our wide range of work.” Six staff have lost their jobs because of the closure. Former chief executive Nerys Jones, who will become a consultant, said: “There is a lot of work still to be done but we were successful in getting the whole concept of urban forestry into regeneration plans.” She said there were now about 50 community forestry initiatives. Of the many tree and forestry associations that remain to fly the flag, only Trees for Cities, an independent charity launched in 1993, focuses solely on urban community tree-planting projects.

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