Thames Chase forests to get part of £44m government fund

12:00 PM August 8, 2022

Woodland in east London will benefit from mass plantations as part of an investment to adapt to a warmer world.  

Thames Chase is among 13 community forests to benefit from a slice of £44.2 million allocated to improve woodlands in Bedfordshire and communities close to the M25 in Essex.

Covering nearly 40 square miles in total, Thames Chase is spread across Havering, Thurrock, Barking and Dagenham and Brentwood local authority areas.

Its Forest Centre is in Upminster.

The money is part of the government’s £750 million Natural for Climate Fund, which works to expand woodlands near cities, towns, villages and rivers. 

It aims to create larger, well-designed and diverse woodlands which are more resilient to the climate crisis and natural hazards such as storms.

Forestry minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing all rely on nature. 

“As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse treescapes across the country and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep.” 

The mass plantations also aim to reduce the risk of floods in vulnerable areas and provide sustainable UK-grown timber along with more places for biodiversity to thrive.  

As part of the £44.2m slice, around 2,300 hectares of trees – the size of more than 3,000 football pitches – will be planted in Marston Vale near Bedford and across 40 hectares in Thames Chase.

It is estimated the new trees will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050.

The fund will also create more green jobs within the forestry and environmental sectors, helping spread economic growth across the country.  

Paul Nolan, chair of England’s Community Forests, said: “England’s Community Forests welcome the opportunity to establish even more new woodlands close to people to deliver all the benefits that we know they provide. 

“Over the past two years, we have worked closely with Defra [the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs], the Forestry Commission, Natural England, more than 70 local authorities and a huge range of landowners to establish in excess of 1,000 hectares of new woodland.

“We are looking forward to continuing this joint endeavour and helping the country reach our net zero goal.”

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