There are so many benefits to planting trees — and England is about to see that firsthand. The British government officially has secured funding to plant at least 130,000 trees in urban and urban-adjacent areas across England over the next two years, which breaks down to just 178 trees being planted a day. The funding will also cover the first three years of care for the trees.
U.K. Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the news on Sunday, May 19. As a press release explained, the English government will be able to plant the trees thanks to £10 million (about $12.7 million USD) in grants provided by the HM Treasury (aka Her Majesty's treasury, which is Britain's Treasury). The HM Treasury first announced its intention to provide £10 million for planting at least 130,000 trees across England as part of the 2018 Autumn Budget. On May 18, 2019, the government founded the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) in response to the HM Treasury's announcement, as explained on UTCF's website.
The UTCF will fund the planting of trees of varying sizes in English cities, as well as towns that neighbor cities. Applications will open this week to individuals who would like trees planted in their communities. The Forestry Commission will manage the fund and all applications.
"The support is competitive and targeted at projects that can provide the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits in our towns and cities," the UTCF's website explains. "Public bodies, community groups, charities and non-government organisations, individuals and private companies who provide matched funding will be eligible to apply."
"Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates," Michael Gove said in a statement. "We need trees lining the streets of our cities and towns, not only to green and shade them but to ensure that we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world and the health and wellbeing benefits that it brings us."
There are endless environmental benefits to planting trees, as explained by tree-planting organization Canopy. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, which reduces the total amount of greenhouse gases (which contribute to climate change) in the atmosphere. Furthermore, trees can lower air temperatures, provide shade, reduce air conditioning and heating costs, and provide habitats for wildlife, according to Canopy.
Not to mention, some environmentalists believe tree-planting could have a major role in combatting the climate crisis. Earlier this year, ETH Zurich professor Dr. Thomas Crowther found that there is enough space to plant another 1.2 trillion trees on Earth. Crowther hypothesized that if we can actually manage to plant 1.2 trillion trees, we could offset the last decade of CO2 emissions.
On top of coordinating the planting of 130,000 trees, the UTCF's grant will also help achieve a few goals set in the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' (DEFRA) 25 Year Environment Plan. Most notably, the 130,000 trees will count towards DEFRA's commitment of planting 1 million urban trees across the U.K. by 2022.