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House of Commons Hansard
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17 March 2016
Volume 607
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5. How many schools are taking part in the Government’s new tree planting scheme. [904155]

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So far, 800 primary schools have participated in the scheme. The hope is that in the next stage we will give 1 million individual schoolchildren the opportunity to select, plant and care for their own tree.

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I congratulate the Minister on this fantastic scheme. I know that schools in Worcester, which are great fans of the forest schools initiative, will want to play their full part. Trees are a fantastic investment in cleaner air, in the quality of life in our cities and in flood defence. Will the Minister come to Worcester and see the tree renaissance that is taking place in our city, where our mayor, Roger Knight, is leading the planting of thousands of new trees?

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I should be delighted to take up that offer. Worcester is showing real leadership, but we would like many more towns and cities in the United Kingdom to engage in planting more trees. As my hon. Friend has pointed out, it is fantastic for tackling air pollution, fantastic for biodiversity and great for our leisure and health. In particular, I pay tribute to the work in Worcester at Laugherne Brook and Perdiswell.

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In addition to the development of new woodland, the maintenance of existing woodland is equally important. What steps have the Government taken to promote and maintain our existing woodlands?

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We have a series of schemes on this. The countryside stewardship scheme gives grants to improve woodland. We also have new projects worth millions of pounds working on under-managed woodland to make sure it is managed better, and we have a £1 million scheme to help people to plan and develop new woodland across the north of England in particular.