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Blenheim’s tree planting scheme a ‘shining example’

Blenheim Estate’s commitment to create nine new woodlands and plant more than 270,000 trees has been hailed as a ‘shining example’ by the Forestry Commission.

Farming Minister Victoria Prentis and Minister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment Rebecca Pow joined representatives from DEFRA and the Forestry Commission on a visit to the Oxfordshire estate last week to launch a new drive encouraging farmers and landowners across England to grow and manage more trees.

It follows publication of the England Trees Action Plan in 2021 which committed to treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament – to at least 7,000 hectares of trees per year.

Blenheim’s ‘unprecedented’ tree-planting project is a joint partnership with Morgan Sindall Group plc, the construction and regeneration group, and represents the first woodlands to be planted under the Forest Canopy Foundation (FCF) – a not-for-profit collaboration of private sector forestry companies.

“As a long-term landowner, reliant on the health of the local area, we are extremely proud to have secured funding for this vital woodland creation scheme,” said Blenheim Estate’s Director Roy Cox. This unprecedented tree planting project is the largest England Woodland Creation Offer agreement to date in the South East, covering 104 ha this season, with more planned.

“The wellbeing of our countryside needs bold steps like this and through planting we will deliver seven species rich, habitat diverse, productive woodlands. These will improve water quality in the Dorn and Glyme catchments, improving the condition of the World Heritage Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) and sequester 22,000 tonnes of carbon over 30 years.

“It will open up access to nature for the surrounding communities and create a 15km circular trail between the estate and the local villages of Woodstock and Wootton,” he added.

Jane Hull, Area Director South East and London, Forestry Commission welcomed the initiative and underlined the vital role trees and woodlands play in protecting the planet and mitigating the increasing threat of climate change and biodiversity loss.

“The woodland planned for the Blenheim Estate will be a brilliant way to diversify the land with exciting opportunities to plant and manage trees in a way that maximises the benefits they provide for climate, nature, people and the economy.

“As the Government’s forestry experts, we continue to support farmers and land managers in finding ways to grow trees in a way which meets their individual needs and ambitions, as well as bringing benefit to the local community. Blenheim Estate is a shining example of this and I would strongly urge everyone considering woodland creation to look into this new campaign, contact your local Woodland Creation Officer and start to see the tangible benefits which trees can bring to your business,” she added.

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