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Forest for the Nation competition launched

Forest for the Nation to improve public access to nature and provide a boost for our native wildlife
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Father with his young son own his shoulders on a day out in Thrunton woods together in the North East of England. They are looking around at the trees

The Forest for the Nation has moved a step closer following yesterday’s (03 Feb) launch of a new multimillion-pound grant funding competition.

The competition is inspired by the success of the original National Forest, which transformed a large area of the Midlands from an industrial landscape to a thriving 200 square mile treescape rich with wildlife.

Transforming communities

The new Forest for the Nation is set to build on the achievement with the aim of transforming more local communities and landscapes.

Organisations from across England are now invited to put forward their local areas to become the new Forest for the Nation. The winning bid, to be announced in the autumn, will receive up to £10 million to help fund its project.

‘We know forests are our greatest ally in the fight against climate change and I’m pleased to see this initiative offering the positive potential to completely transform a landscape and neighbouring communities.

‘In order to create a transformational ‘lasting legacy’, the government needs to also urgently implement its long overdue legislation to remove illegal deforestation from UK supply chains which will hugely benefit future generations and bring our world back to life.’ 

Executive director of science and conservation at WWF

The competition will put local people at its heart; the winning applicant will need to tell a compelling story of how the new forest will benefit local communities, and also have a national impact for people, nature and the environment.

Projects could include those that show real innovation in woodland and forest creation and other forms of tree planting, have a transformational impact for nature recovery in the area or boost community engagement with woodlands.

‘We are investing in our communities and the new Forest for the Nation will not only boost tree-planting in local areas, but will create a lasting legacy and benefit future generations.

‘More trees means more green jobs, more wildlife, more nature recovery and more timber. This will have a positive impact on local people and their communities enabling a more sustainable future.’

Forestry Minister

‘A transformational opportunity’

Stage 1 of the competition will close in March 2024 with the successful applicants going to stage 2 where they will be directly supported by the National Forest Company to work up detailed proposals.

The winning project will also receive mentoring from the National Forest Company, who will share their experience and best practice from more than 30 years of growing a woodland with national impact.

The National Forest Company has to date planted 9 million trees, and is recognised for creating one of the most ambitious and imaginative regeneration projects in the country.

‘This competition provides a platform for new projects to come together at a landscape scale and demonstrate real ambition and innovation in woodland creation, access and biodiversity.

‘It will be a transformational opportunity for the successful project just as the National Forest has been for its 200 square miles of the Midlands.’

National Forest Company chief executive

Woodland cover targets

The competition, first announced in November, is the latest step in the government’s plans to help people access nature, plant more trees and support nature recovery.

The new Forest for the Nation will also support the government’s statutory tree and woodland targets to increase tree canopy and woodland cover of England to 16.5% by 2050.

The new Forest for the Nation competition invites bids from across England for ambitious and innovative woodland creation and management projects. This can include partnerships which involve connecting and enhancing existing woodlands.

To be the overall winner, applicants must have agreement from an English Local Authority to receive and distribute the Section 31 grant to the delivery partner and manage the relationship between them and the delivery partner. 

The new Forest for the Nation will support the England Trees Action Plan, which is committed to treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament. Its delivery is funded by the Nature for Climate Fund, which is over £750m.

The project will also support specific Environmental Improvement Plan aims such as plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, restoring nature and helping to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.

‘Trees bring multiple benefits for future generations, and the new Forest for the Nation will improve access to nature and connect more people with our countryside to boost health and wellbeing.

‘The Forest for the Nation will learn from the success of the National Forest in transforming lives of local people, preventing nature loss and creating green jobs, and I urge organisations to consider applying before the deadline.’

Forestry Commission chair

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