People hoping to make a difference to green spaces can plant trees in their area with the help of a new funding grant.
Durham County Council has made funding available for community groups, parish councils, schools, and individuals who want to help revitalise local green spaces and combat climate change.
The grant coincides with National Tree Week which runs until Sunday (December 6) and is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of winter tree planting.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, restrictions and safety measures have meant people will be unable to get together this season and plant trees as they normally would.
While restrictions currently prevent groups from gathering to plant trees, individuals can also apply for the grant.
The council will be accepting applications until February 2021 to provide an opportunity for groups to plant trees once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone and, with limited trips out, local green spaces have become a place for people to reconnect with the outdoors.
During the pandemic, outdoor spaces have helped support people’s mental and wellbeing during this difficult time by offering an attractive space for people to enjoy and use for exercise, contemplation, entertainment or a chance to explore their local natural environment.
Trees provide many other benefits such as conserving water and soils, supporting wildlife and biodiversity, and are a key solution to climate change.
A maximum grant of £150 will be available to communities and individuals that apply and can be used for schemes to plant trees such as fruit trees, commemorative trees, open-grown specimen trees, hedgerow trees, small field corners and coppices.
The council’s clean and green team is also currently planting trees across the county as part of the wider Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge, a funded project to increase tree coverage in urban areas.
Both projects support the council’s Climate Emergency Response Plan (CERP) which aims to reduce the county’s carbon emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050 while tackling climate change through hundreds of projects such as tree planting and energy conservation.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Green spaces are vitally important for supporting our own health and wellbeing while preserving the natural environment. During the coronavirus pandemic, people have been relying on these areas for exercise and a trip outdoors where other means have been unavailable.
“Now more than ever we are all realising how valuable green spaces are to communities. This grant will help groups and individuals plant trees across the county, improve and preserve local outdoor spaces while helping our pledge as a county to combat climate change.”
Early applications for the grants are recommended as they will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
For further details about the grant, email [email protected].