More than 50,000 urban trees to be planted in England
More than 50,000 trees are to be planted in urban areas of England as 13 projects have been given the go ahead.
The government's Urban Tree Challenge Fund will see each scheme receive a share from a £10m pot.
Recipients include projects in Cornwall, London, Manchester and the north-east of England.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the trees would help fight climate change and connect urban-dwellers with nature.
The announcement comes days after Ms Villiers was tackled by critics who said many more news trees were needed than those proposed.
Quizzing her in parliament, Shadow Environment Secretary Dr Alan Whitehead said the government was missing its target of planting 11 million trees by 2050 by 71%.
But Ms Villiers said she was determined to "massively" step up planting.
More than 22,000 large trees and 28,000 small ones will be planted across the 13 projects in the first round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund.
By 2021 it aims to have planted 130,000 trees across England, with the government pledging to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year across the UK by 2025.
Ms Villiers said: "Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, to tackle air pollution and help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050.
"But for local communities they are so much more.
"They allow green spaces to come together, help both physical and mental wellbeing, and connect children and young people with nature."
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Sir Harry Studholme, chairman of the Forestry Commission which administers the fund, said the scheme was focusing on areas of "high deprivation and low tree canopy cover".
"Not only do trees in urban areas help to improve wellbeing but they also offer benefits in many other ways, like helping tackle climate change and mitigating flood risks," he said.
The fund will reopen for its second round in the spring.
The round one projects are:
- Bristol and North Somerset - 600 new street trees in each local authority area with residents selecting the trees and volunteers looking after them
- Cornwall - Provide more outdoor learning opportunities and create more diverse ecosystems
- County Durham - Trees in areas with "very limited" tree cover to also help reduce noise levels from roads
- Greater Manchester - Various schemes in high density areas to reduce noise and air pollution and provide shade and cooler temperatures
- London - 6,938 street trees across 202 council wards in 20 London boroughs
- Luton - Planting in the parkland to create pleasant spaces within the town
- Merseyside - Improving access routes into the Mersey Forest network of woodlands and compensate for trees lost to diseases
- Middlesbrough - 10,000 trees with eight of the 16 sites alongside roads
- Northumberland - Trees added to parks in populated areas of the south east coal field area and two community orchards in Hexham
- Plymouth - Increase canopy cover and tree diversity in certain neighbourhoods
- Slough - Trees to be planted in streets and blocks to improve air quality and protect against flooding
- Thanet - Trees in public parks and on former landfill sites with the area having the lowest canopy cover (4.4%) of any UK district
- Trees for Cities - Support the charity that already plants trees across the country with new projects focussing on fruit and nut tree species