HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc412-3W
25. Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to continue and expand initiatives to encourage tree planting in towns and the countryside. [29797]

Mr. Clappison

In the recent White Paper, "Rural England", we said that the Government would like to see a doubling of the woodland in England over the next half century. To this end we support directly the national forest in the east midlands and the 12 community forests. In addition to the £35 million the Forestry Commission will provide in forestry grants this year, Government-funded regeneration grants and agri-environment schemes can also support tree planting. My Department has spent over £1 million since 1992 on research into more cost effective tree planting and management methods.

In 1995 my Department established the national urban forestry unit to promote good practice in the planting and management of trees and woodlands in urban areas. The unit will work in partnership with local authorities, groundwork trusts, English Partnerships and other public, private and voluntary sector interests. Urban forestry will be an important element of the greening the city initiative which I launched last October. This initiative is drawing together information, experience and expertise on the greening of our towns and cities and we will make this available as a good practice guide, to be launched at a national conference in the autumn. We are also assisting local authorities to develop tree strategies for their areas and to encourage the planting of trees when land is developed.