This week, England announced a plan to plant at least 130,000 trees in cities and towns throughout the country as part of the Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge Fund. The challenge, endorsed and announced by environment secretary Michael Gove, allows individuals, municipalities, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations to access trees and maintenance funding as long as they can prove they have funding to continue to maintain the trees after a three-year funding period.

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“We need trees lining our streets, not only to green and shade them but to ensure we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates,” said secretary Michael Gove.

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Trees have remarkable benefits for the environment and for people living in urban areas. Although 130,000 trees won’t stop climate change, evidence suggests that a mature tree can absorb and store up to 22 kg of carbon every year and produce enough oxygen to sustain two people. Every 10 percent of forest cover in urban areas reduces ozone gas by 3 to 7 percent.

In addition to the benefits to air quality, urban trees provide a habitat for birds, squirrels and other species. Tree-lined streets are considered aesthetically pleasing and mentally calming and have even been linked to a reduction in violent and petty crimes, as well as an increase in property values of between 5 to 15 percent.

The English Forestry Commission is a U.K. government agency with a mission to increase the value of forests for people and the environment. Forestry Commission chair Sir Harry Studholme said of the tree planting challenge, “This will allow us to plant more trees much closer to where people live and work and where the benefits of trees make the most difference.”

Via The Guardian

Image via Mary Salazar