The launch of the Forest of Avon Plan: A Tree and Woodland Strategy for the West of England, was welcomed by the Metro Mayor, together with partners from the West of England Nature Partnership and the Forest of Avon Trust at Kelston Roundhill near Bath.
The plan supports regional targets to double tree cover by 2050 – an extra 1.1 million trees every decade – one for each resident in the region.
Key goals include planting thousands of street trees in areas of low tree cover, creating networks of trees for nature and bringing more existing woodlands into management so they are properly cared for to give us and wildlife all of those amazing benefits!
As the West of England’s four Unitary Authorities and the West of England Combined Authority accelerate action to address both a Climate Emergency and severe ecological decline, this plan is a key piece of work to draw in investment and coordinate action where it will have the greatest impact for our region’s trees and woodlands – and in turn for us all.
The cross-sector West of England Nature Partnership, including the councils of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the West of England Combined Authority, has endorsed the plan, coordination of which is being led by the Forest of Avon Trust, the West of England’s Community Forest charity.
West of England Combined Authority Mayor, Dan Norris said: “Trees are tree-mendous. As the world struggles with a climate emergency there can be no better time to imagine how things could be different. There are some really exciting ideas here and I’m full square behind the idea of planting one tree for every person in the West of England. Trees matter, helping to clean and cool the air, reduce flooding, and are beautiful to look at. Plus my dog Angel loves rustling through the leaves that have fallen off the trees every Autumn.”
The plan sets out a comprehensive set of action plans for each area within the region as well as key principles for tree planting and care. It sets out the evidence base for accelerated action for more and better managed trees and woodlands and calls upon collective action of individuals, communities, businesses, landowners and authorities to deliver an agreed vision.
The plan proposes measures for the immediate and longer term to help meet the future vision for the ‘Forest of Avon’, one of England’s Community Forests and to seize upon the evidenced benefits that trees and woodlands bring to tackle the huge challenges we face as a region but also as a part of a national and global picture.
Our trees and woodlands make a vital contribution to a thriving natural environment, society and economy.
The aspiration to double tree and woodland cover will provide significant benefits to the region, including an estimated additional £540 million worth of carbon sequestration, air quality improvements and hazard regulation alone. This is in addition to the as-yet unquantified benefits from increasing biodiversity, providing health and wellbeing benefits, improving water and air quality, providing economic benefits and jobs and providing goods and services such as timber and recreation. The value of these benefits far exceeds the costs of delivery.
The plan will ensure that action for trees and woodland supports the delivery of our vital Nature Recovery Networks for species to thrive. Delivery will also align with regional Green Infrastructure strategies, the Plan itself being a specific result of the Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy Action Plan.
Ross Kennerley, Woodland Trust Regional Director for SW England said: "We are pleased to have supported the creation of The Forest of Avon Plan. This demonstrates how multiple organisations can support one another, taking a landscape scale approach. We need to act now to expand the tree and woodland cover across the West of England and to protect and enhance existing woodland too; for the climate, for wildlife and for people. We look forward our continued involvement to support the delivery of this plan."
Jon Clark, Executive Director of the Forest of Avon Trust who led the writing of the Plan said: "Many organisations have shaped the Forest of Avon Plan and as well as comprehensive framework to guide action we also have a partnership committed to make this happen. The Forest of Avon Trust looks forward to working with those already involved and the landowners, businesses, communities and individuals who can make this happen."
The Forest of Avon Trust will now lead on drawing together partnerships to accelerate action for transformational change in the next 5-10 years, for people, wildlife, the climate and our future. To find out more contact the Forest of Avon Trust or go to https://forestofavontrust.org/forest-of-avon-plan/