The Forest of Avon Plan: A Tree and Woodland Strategy for the West of England was today (9th June) launched at the Festival of Nature. The Plan supports regional targets to double tree cover by 2050, establishing an extra 8,000 hectares of woodlands, and provides a vision for ‘our trees and woodlands making a vital contribution to a thriving natural environment, society and economy‘. Key goals include planting thousands of street trees in areas of low tree cover, creating nature networks, and bringing more existing woodlands into management so they are properly cared for.

As the West of England’s four Unitary Authorities and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) accelerate action to address both the Climate and Ecological Emergencies, 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 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.

It also provides proposed measures for the immediate and longer term to help meet the future vision for the Forest of Avon, and to seize upon the evidenced benefits that trees and woodlands bring to tackle the huge challenges we face.

The Plan has been endorsed by the WENP Board, and its coordination will be led by the Forest of Avon Trust, the West of England’s Community Forest charity. This will ensure that action for trees and woodland supports the delivery of the West of England Nature Recovery Network. Delivery will also align with regional Green Infrastructure strategies, the Plan itself being a result of the West of England Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy Action Plan.

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 will far exceed the costs of delivery.

Jon Clark, Executive Director of the Forest of Avon Trust, says:

‘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 by emailing info@forestofavontrust.org, or go to: https://forestofavontrust.org/forest-of-avon-plan/

©2022 West of England Nature Partnership E: info@wenp.org.uk T: 0117 980 0392 A: 32 Jacobs Wells Road, Bristol, BS8 1DR

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