As COP26, the climate-change summit in Glasgow, nears its conclusion, a new tree-planting initiative in Kent has been announced.
Kent County Council, in partnership with Ashford and Swale Borough Councils, has been awarded £275,129 from the Local Authority Treescape Fund which will lead to the planting of more than 41,000 trees and saplings across those two areas.
The two districts will be responsible for delivering these trees within their areas, which must be planted before March 2022.
In Swale, trees will be planted across 16 sites including Vincent Gardens in Sheerness, Leysdown coastal park, Homewood Avenue and Manor Grove Sittingbourne and Whitings Crescent and Windermere in Faversham.
In the Ashford borough, plantations will be spread across Ashford with a number in the Willesborough and South Ashford areas. The council’s intention is to plant 135,000 trees over the next three years -representing one for each resident. This funding will support the project with the first 30,000 going into the ground this winter.
The council intends to create a number of densely packed plantations varying in size from 500 square metres upwards.
Using a mix of native tree and shrub species these plantations will be planted in areas of existing open space where the addition of trees will create opportunities for biodiversity.
Where possible meadow areas will be created around some of these new plantations to maximise and encourage species to colonise new habitats.
Residents will start to see some preparation of sites in the next few weeks, each one will be fenced off to support the development and establishment of the trees saplings.
The Treescapes Fund supports the planting and natural development of trees outside woods, establishing more trees in settings such as hedgerows, parklands, urban areas and beside riverbanks, roads and footpaths.
Susan Carey, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “I am delighted that Kent has won this funding. Not only does it make a significant contribution to KCC’s ambition to see an extra 1.5 million trees across the county but it also includes funding for maintenance in their crucial early years.
“Trees provide multiple benefits – they clean the air, give shade in the hot summer months, provide food and habitat for wildlife and a joy to see.
“They also support our Net Zero action plan by capturing greenhouse gas emissions. With COP26 taking place right now it couldn’t be a more timely moment to share this news.”
Cllr Andrew Buchanan, portfolio holder for environment and land management at Ashford Borough Council, said: “This funding will play a vital part in delivering on our ambitious target of planting more than 135,000 native trees as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. That’s one for every resident who will be living in the borough in 2022.
“The planting will be happening over the next three winters and is seen as a major step to our goal of being carbon neutral.
“We have called on everyone in the borough to help with this ambitious plan, providing the opportunity to not only grow trees but to grow communities, together. There will be a particular focus on supporting urban and the most disadvantaged communities to plant trees.
“The planting will not be limited to council-owned land, and we are reaching out to private landowners and custodians who might volunteer their land. We are also in the process of recruiting volunteer Tree Wardens, a community ‘tree army’ to help plant and care for the trees.”
Cllr Tim Valentine, Cabinet Member for Climate and Ecological Emergency at Swale Council, said: “Our council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in 2019 and tree planting forms an important part of delivering our intentions of being carbon neutral in our operations by 2025.
“We anticipate needing to plant approximately 148,000 trees over the coming years and this funding will contribute an additional 11,000 trees on top of our existing programme of planting.
“Our plans include a combination of whip planting and more mature trees at 16 locations across the borough.
“Similar to Ashford this includes use of native species in order to complement existing habitats and build increasing biodiversity. We want to work with local residents to embrace this planting and will provide opportunities for volunteering over the course of the planting programme.”