Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund
The WCAF, or Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, is an initiative from the UK Government in its quest to plant more trees in response to the climate and biodiversity crises. The total of £9,800,000 is to be given to local authorities to then fund tree planting efforts in their local areas, specifically over winter 2023-2024 and 2024-2025.
Thus it is with much delight that it can be announced that Tees Valley will be one of those beneficiary areas.
Announced by the Combined Authority, the area will receive £300,000 of Government funding to usher in a new wave of tree planting in the area. This wave is known as the ‘Tees Valley Woodland Creation Partnership’ and is led by the Combined Authority and Mayor, Ben Houchen.
With this, Tees Valley becomes one of the 57 local authorities to be part of this new challenge and effort that is going to be ever so vital in combatting the biodiversity loss we are witnessing as well as mitigating the effects of a changing climate. The WCAF also proudly boasts the creation also of over 100 new green jobs nationally to oversee this mission.
The question is inevitably asked as to what planting this venture will entail. Well, the plan is to create 50 hectares of woodland in 2023-2024, which should increase to 150 hectares by 2025. This woodland is set to be a great benefit for all within the 5 boroughs of Tees Valley, as woodland has innumerable physical and mental health benefits for individuals – while also being vital for our region’s biodiversity. This is also great news as Tees Valley currently has well under the national average of woodland cover, standing at only 7%.
It is not just woodland, however, that will get the glory of this new project. Plans are also included to plant 1,000 new street trees in the area. Having trees within an urbanised development is crucial in many ways, for example trees are invaluable in keeping a clean air supply in areas with high pollution. It is not just health benefits, however. Having greenery within town and cities increases the real estate of the properties around it – improving the economy, and thus quality of life, of the local area.
All in all this is a fantastic opportunity to ‘level up’ Tees Valley in a way that benefits not just us, but the natural world also.