Suffolk’s natural environment will receive investment for tree-planting, restoring hedgerows, and improving roadside verges for wildlife.
£228,000 from the Suffolk 2020 Fund will enable Suffolk County Council to enhance its work to protect and encourage biodiversity in the county. The authority will do this through a number of new schemes, as well as building on existing work.
Working with The Woodland Trust, Suffolk Tree Wardens, landowners, and county farm tenants, the funding will support the planting of around 100,000 trees, including replanting hedgerows in suitable locations across Suffolk over the next 18 months. It will also help establish around 10 community tree nurseries, which will support more planting in years to come. Local volunteers will be supported to collect seeds, set up nursery beds and grow trees in their communities.
The funding will also be used to trial better ways to manage roadside verges for wildlife. This includes exploring the use of new technology and cutting techniques, as well as developing new partnerships with parishes and landowners. The funding will help expand the existing Roadside Nature Reserve network managed by the council with the help of volunteers, seeing a 25% increase in the overall length of verges managed for wildlife.
Councillor Richard Rout, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection at Suffolk County Council, said:
“This funding will boost the council’s existing work to protect Suffolk’s environment and wildlife. Increased tree planting will allow us to offset carbon emissions, though we are continuing to work to eliminate the council’s emissions where possible, as part of our commitment to our climate emergency declaration.
“But this is much more than just planting trees and walking away. We are setting up the support needed to allow trees, hedgerows and verges to thrive for years to come, including in urban areas. We are committed to a ‘right tree, right place’ policy and to working with others. This will be achieved through a new Suffolk Tree Partnership, involving many others across Suffolk, to support local communities and landowners to help manage and increase tree cover.
“We will also work with others to develop a ‘healing wood’ initiative as a way of recognising the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our communities.
“With Suffolk’s healing woods we will all have access to natural spaces, where we can reflect on our own experiences of the pandemic or take a quiet moment to grieve for loved ones.”
People in Suffolk can have their say on plans for a ‘healing’ woodland space in memory of those who died from Covid-19. A survey has now been launched online for people to share their thoughts and preferences on what they would like to see.
Among the questions people can answer are whether they believe there should be multiple woods spread across the county, and whether it should be on existing public ground. The potential locations are to be identified in the new year.
Councillor Richard Rout said:
“We’ve already had a really positive and personal response to this project, and whatever your background or beliefs, nature offers a place for all to reflect and remember.
“It’s really important to me, to hear from as many people as possible about how and where a healing wood will have the most positive impact for them.”
The survey will run online until 25 November. The council will then collate and publish the results with a plan for the next steps.