Kent County Council has been awarded £500,000 to carry on an innovative new study on tree planting which could change the way the UK plants trees.
The Trees Outside Woodlands project, led by Defra, Natural England, and the Tree Council, is a £2.52 million investment over the next two and a half years.
The study looks at new ways of expanding tree cover in cities, towns, and the countryside to maximise benefits for local quality of life, mitigate climate change impacts and create habitats for wildlife.
KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “This is an exciting scheme, and the findings of our various studies will be used to inform long-term national policy, meaning that if the innovations being tested in Kent are successful, they could be rapidly rolled out across the UK.”
There are several different pilots across the country and Kent County Council has been tasked with focusing on two schemes.
The ‘Urban Tree Establishment Funding’ pilot study looks to establish different ways to increase tree cover within the urban environment.
The ‘Alternative Management of Roadside Corridors’ scoping study investigates whether natural regeneration, seed sowing and other techniques can be used to establish or improve tree populations on land next to roads.
Michael Payne continued: “We’ll have several experimental trial plots which will be monitored and assessed for the various partners to gather data on the various approaches.
“It’s also given us the opportunity to begin the restoration of now rare and uncommon native tree species, including black poplar, alder buckthorn, juniper, box, wild service, and small-leaved lime which once made-up Kent’s natural tree cover, to the landscape.”
For the Urban Tree Establishment, KCC will be carrying out small-scale planting at Allington Open Space, Hudson’s Quarry and Park Wood Recreation Ground in Maidstone, Willowmead Open Space in Leybourne and Seager Road open space and Festival Field in Sheerness.
The experiment involves trialling a range of planting methods including the Miyawaki method – using native tree species to create urban forests – bio-secure natural regeneration, local provenance seeding and traditional tree planting plots as controls.
The trees will be planted across different soil types and using a range of organic soil enhancing additives.
For the Alternative Management of Roadside Corridors, a large trial plot to test variations on the theme of natural regeneration, including bird-sown trees and scrub, alongside broadcast sowing – scattering seed by hand over a large area – has been agreed at Forestry England’s new Pleasant Farm woodland site near Lenham.