As tree lovers across the country gather to celebrate National Tree Week, Future Woodlands Scotland (FWS) announces a partnership with bp to help deliver greener cities, towns, and urban areas through an innovative forestry programme.

The charity, which is dedicated to creating and conserving woodlands across Scotland, has signed a contract with bp, whereby the energy major intends to commit funding of a total of £10million to the newly created urban forestry programme as part of the development of its Scottish offshore windfarm, Morven, jointly developed with EnBW.

A key ambition of the programme is to use new and emerging technologies to target the urban areas where creating greenspace will be of the most benefit to people.

The funding has enabled the charity to recruit its first urban forestry manager who will lead the delivery of the urban forestry programme, which it expects to launch in mid-2024.

FWS chief executive, Shireen Chambers, said:

“We’re excited to be working with bp to take this next step in the development of our Urban Forestry Programme for the potential benefit of more than 4.5 million people living in Scotland’s urban areas. We are committed to making a positive impact on the urban environment, delivering substantial benefits for people, the environment, and the economy through the creation of a diverse network of trees and woodlands in and around our urban settlements.”

“With the appointment of our first programme manager, Des Hackett, who has a wealth of experience in public policy and green space development, we can get down to the detail of developing the programme and look forward to its official launch next year.”

Urban forestry is the management of trees and forest resources in and around community ecosystems for their present and potential contributions to the physiological, sociological, and economic well-being of urban society.

Research shows that, in addition to the health and well-being benefits associated with access to nature, urban forestry can result in economic gains. According to a recent study by Forest Research and Defra, individual trees in the UK's urban and rural areas are worth up to £3.8 bn per year. The economic value is based on the role trees and woodlands play in sequestering and storing carbon, regulating temperatures, strengthening flood resilience, and reducing noise and air pollution.

In Edinburgh, trees and woodlands help remove nearly 200,000 tonnes of airborne pollutants every year, and in Glasgow, research found that the urban forest structure intercepted 812,000 m2 of rainfall each year and removed nearly 300,000 tonnes of air pollution.

Ms Chambers added: “With more than 80% of people in Scotland living in urban areas, it’s important that they can access green networks where they live. The purpose of this programme is to create leafier neighbourhoods, including trees in parks, streets, amenity areas and along canals and rivers, which encourages people to spend more time outdoors interacting with their communities, which in turn promotes health and well-being.”

With the UK’s largest annual tree celebration National Tree Week underway, FWS chief executive, Shireen Chambers and Richard Haydock, bp’s programme director, UK offshore wind, marked the new contract signing by planting an oak tree in the Scottish capital at Hunters Hall Park, located in the south of the city. It will contribute to the nature restoration along the Pentland to Portobello green corridor.

Richard Haydock, bp’s programme director, UK offshore wind said: “We are proud of bp’s long-established partnership with Future Woodlands Scotland. The Urban Forestry Programme agreement marks an important expansion of our support. We look forward to launching the programme in 2024, which will focus on increasing the number of trees and green spaces in Scotland’s cities and towns.”

bp has supported the regeneration of woodlands in Scotland for more than 20 years and is committed to making a positive impact to restore and enhance biodiversity where its people live and work.

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