The Big Tree Plant
Launched in December 2010, The Big Tree Plant is a Government-sponsored campaign in England to promote the planting of one million trees in neighbourhoods where people live and work. The campaign will run over four years from 2011 to 2015, and is the first such initiative since Plant A Tree In '73.
The campaign aims to halt the ongoing decline in urban and semi-urban tree planting in England. The decline was highlighted by a survey of urban trees in England carried out in 2005 (published as the report Trees in Towns II in 2008), which found that there had been a 'big reduction' in urban tree planting (compared to a similar 1992 survey) leading to an 'unsatisfactory age structure' with too few young trees, and which concluded that the issue should be 'urgently addressed'. In London a separate 2007 report, Chainsaw Massacre, found that there were concerns about planting rates in some boroughs, and that mature broadleaf street trees throughout London were under 'severe threat' due to a mixture of development pressures, reduced expenditure, public apathy and antipathy, and (often unsubstantiated) concerns by insurance companies, solicitors and home-owners over subsidence. Both reports also express concern over the practice of planting smaller ornamental species rather than native broadleaf trees such as plane, lime and oak.
Funding of £4.2m will be made available for community, civic and other non-profit groups from April 2011. In addition to covering planting costs, grants can be used for related purposes such as community involvement, site surveys and the provision of expert advice. £4m of the funding is being provided by the Forestry Commission through 'efficiency savings and reprioritisation', while the remaining £200,000 will come from the existing London Tree and Woodland Community Grant. The independently chaired Big Tree Plant Grants Panel will include representatives from civil society organisations, DEFRA, and the Forestry Commission, and will meet each spring and summer to award funds.
In advance of the main funding, Keep Britain Tidy - one of the partners supporting the initiative - has already invited applications for planting kits from schools in the Government's Eco-School programme.
The funding arrangements, specifically the fact that the grants will normally only cover up to 75% of the cost of each scheme (although free labour can be offset against this), have been criticised as favouring better-off over deprived communities.
The DEFRA-led The Big Tree Plant campaign is backed by a number of partners including The Tree Council, Woodland Trust, Trees for Cities, England’s 12 Community Forests, the National Forest, BTCV, Civic Voice, Groundwork UK, Keep Britain Tidy, the Local Government Association, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Forestry Commission.
- The Big Tree Plant: new partnership to plant one million trees, DEFRA, published 2010-12-02, accessed 2010-12-09
- Aims of The Big Tree Plant, Forestry Commission, accessed 2010-12-09
- Trees in Towns II, Department for Communities and Local Government, published 2008-02-18, accessed 2010-12-09
- Chainsaw massacre: A review of London's street trees Greater London Authority, published 2007-05-01, accessed 2010-12-09
- Funding and grants The Big Tree Plant, accessed 2010-12-09
- The Big Tree Plant launched, Horticulture Week, published 2010-12-02, accessed 2010-12-09
- Government launches £4.2m urban tree-planting plan, Manchester Wired, published 2010-12-02, accessed 2010-12-09
- Grants Panel, Forestry Commission, accessed 2010-12-09
- The Big Tree Plant - order your free tree planting kit, Keep Britain Tidy, accessed 2010-12-09
- The Big Tree Plant, Keep Britain Tidy, published 2010-12-06, accessed 2010-12-09
- The Big Tree Plant funding scheme, The Big Tree Plant, accessed 2010-12-09
- A million trees for England: but who gets them?, The Guardian, published 2010-12-02, accessed 2010-12-09