Across England, there is a network of small organisations, charities, people and partnerships all passionate about creating places for people and wildlife.
The Community Forest Trust (CFT) aims to bring them together and secure more investment for community forestry, ensuring a green future for all.
CFT is the national champion for community forests in England. It provides a voice for community forestry organisations that are working to plant trees, bring woodland back into use and connect people to the natural world.
Who do CFT help?
Currently, CFT is directly supporting The Mersey Forest in North Cheshire and Merseyside, City of Trees in Greater Manchester, White Rose Forest in the Leeds City Region and Heywoods in Kingston upon Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Together we have planted over 2 million saplings; in our schools, on our streets, along our rivers, as part of new developments and woven into local green spaces - connecting communities and creating corridors for wildlife.
This is all part of an ambitious plan to plant 50 million trees – a new Northern Forest - encompassing the cities of Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.
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In addition, CFT supports 10 other Community Forests spread across England from Salford to Somerset by helping to administer grants, lead on projects, and offer advice and support.
Why plant so many trees?
From boosting biodiversity, improving our health and wellbeing, reducing the risk of flooding, locking up carbon and cleaning polluted water – trees really are amazing.
In fact, they could be one of the best solutions to our climate emergency – multifunctional, living tools that help make our urban areas more resilient to the challenges of a rapidly changing environment.
And the time to act is now - according to recent data from the State of the UK Climate report, northern England had the ninth wettest year in a series from 1862. Trees and woods can help to slow the flow of water, protecting our cities and towns.
Yet woodland cover in England is low – just 10% - compared to 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland. Europe averages around 38% woodland cover.
Average woodland cover in the UK is 13%
For both people and planet
Community Forestry is all about connecting people to nature – ensuring everyone can experience that magical woodland walk, notice the signs of spring and wonder at the riot of autumn colour.
This is especially important for our future generations. A recent study by the University of Belgium showed that growing up in a greener urban environment boosts children's intelligence and reduces behavioural problems – boosting IQ by as much as 3%.
As part of the 'Trees for Learning' programme, supported by CFT, tens of thousands of new trees were planted with over 500 primary schools engaging children, creating forest schools of the future. And we plan to do more.
Dig in - be part of it
However, planting trees and looking after our woodlands is a challenge. Not only do we need to constantly find places to plant, but our existing trees are under threat from urban expansion as well as pests and diseases.
This is why our campaign with Candide is so important – the more people that become ‘Tree Inspired’, the more that they will play a part in protecting our existing treasure trove of trees and ensure more get planted.
From volunteering with one of the community forests across England to donating to support our work or simply by sharing some of the #treeinspired content – we can all play our part.
Stay tuned over the next couple weeks to learn all about trees, find out the best ways that you can plant trees and all the benefits that trees provide people and the planet!
Find out more about the work of CFT on theur website or on twitter @CommForestTrust.