COMMUNITY groups across East Lancashire are being encouraged to apply for a share of a £10million cash pot to increase tree numbers in urban areas.

The Forestry Commission has today opened the second round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund for community and volunteer groups, town councils and individuals to apply for a share of the money for small-scale planting projects. Launched last May the project aims to support the planting of more than 130,000 trees across England’s towns and cities.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “This is a really worthwhile scheme and I would encourage groups and individuals here in Pendle and East Lancashire to get involved.

“It’s been proven that planting more trees improves health and wellbeing, connects people with the outdoors, absorbs noise, reduces flood risk, cools temperatures through shading, and creates green spaces to help communities come together.”

Tree planting will start in the winter of 2020/21.

Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith, said: “Our immediate priority is rightly our response to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. But, although these are unprecedented times, we want to continue to uphold the nation’s commitment to the environment.

“We have made sure that the applications can be completed online so individuals are not putting themselves at risk.”

Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley said: “The value of trees in urban areas cannot be underestimated. They provide homes for birds and other wildlife, offer shade and natural cooling effects, help to reduce flood risk, and provide huge benefits for our health and wellbeing."