SHROPSHIRE Council has secured funding worth £500,000 as part of a joint project led by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Tree Council called “Trees Outside Woodland”.

The aim of the project is to test different approaches to encouraging the planting of trees in situations not considered to be true woodland. This would include hedgerow trees, urban trees, single or small clusters of trees within fields, orchards, and even trees grown within crops in a practice called agroforestry.

Shropshire Council is one of five local authorities invited to join the project which will run until March 2023. This includes funding for a project officer; a role that has just been advertised.

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said: “We’re very grateful to Defra for inviting us to take part in this project. Shropshire Council is committed to planting 345,000 trees by 2050, though we are hoping to bring the target forward.

“This project will help us identify the most effective ways to do this and the most effective places to plant them.

"We are in the mid of two linked crises – a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis. Tree planting is a hot topic right now because trees can help with both these issues.

"Trees take carbon dioxide out of the air which will reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. They can also help wildlife if planted in the right place."

Both national and local government have set tree planting targets. Nationally the target is for 30,000 hectares (74 thousand acres) to be planted every year until 2025.

To put this in context the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty is just over 80,000 hectares. Locally, Shropshire Council has a target of 345,000 trees by 2050.

If planted like some woodlands at 1,100 per hectare that would cover 313 hectares.

The Defra funding has already helped the council boost its community tree scheme. An initial 12,500 trees supplied by the council were snapped up in just nine hours.

The additional funding provided a further 20,000 trees which have now been claimed during the second phase of the 2020 scheme.

It is hoped that testing different approaches to encouraging planting will help the government develop more effective programmes of funding for tree planting in the future.