WATCH: National Forest plants its landmark nine millionth tree - thanks to Shaun the Sheep

By Graham Hill

19th Mar 2021 | Local News

The National Forest has celebrated planting its nine millionth tree.

And it was done virtually - by Shaun the Sheep.

You can see Shaun putting the finishing touches to the ceremony above.

But there was also a double celebration with Forestry Minister, Zac Goldsmith, announcing extra funding which means that the National Forest can double its planting programme.

The National Forest says it has taken a lot of work and commitment from many dedicated people who have helped transform the 200-square mile area around Ashby and Coalville, from a place with very few trees in the early 1990s to a growing forest today.

In more normal times, the Forestry Minister would have been invited to plant this tree, but as the country is still in lockdown, officials had to think of a creative way for it to be planted.

So they brought in their newest ambassador for the National Forest - Shaun the Sheep.

In a specially created video, the nation's favourite outdoors character plants the National Forest's nine millionth tree in a woodland near Mossy Bottom Farm.

The popular Aardman character was felt to be the perfect ambassador for woodlands and the countryside.

Mr Goldsmith sent his congratulations from his lockdown home and confirmed the exciting news that the National Forest will be receiving extra funding to help increase tree planting.

He said: "At a time of such urgency for our climate and environment, this is a welcome and impressive achievement.

"Trees have brought transformation, not only for this post-industrial Midlands landscape, but in reconnecting habitats for wildlife, supporting outdoor learning and community wellbeing, and creating new jobs in tourism and woodland industries.

"I am pleased to announce an extra £2.26m from the government's Nature for Climate Fund which will enable the National Forest to double its tree planting aspirations for this year, bringing all the benefits of trees to even more people."

As part of a special live announcement on social media, the Minister recorded a video message to highlight the achievement and to introduce Shaun the Sheep who went on to plant the milestone tree.

Dr Ian Duncan, Chair of the National Forest Company, said: "We are incredibly proud. It's a major achievement in our ongoing work to create the National Forest, and we are extremely grateful to all our farmers, landowners, businesses, schools, local authorities and countless individuals, who have helped us transform the National Forest landscape, demonstrating how nature, society and the economy can work together.

"But we have many more trees to plant, continuing the work of creating the Forest and helping to address the challenges of a changing climate.

"So we very much welcome the announcement of additional funding through the Nature for Climate Fund which will allow us to double our aspirations for tree planting and accelerate progress towards 10 million trees."

The National Forest is keen to hear from all farmers and landowners in the area who are interested in contributing towards the creation of the forest by planting new woodlands through grant schemes.

You can also help to grow the Forest and help reach the next target of 10 million trees by dedicating a tree in memory or as a gift, to benefit people and wildlife for years to come.

     

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