Water companies in England will plant 11 million trees to improve the natural environment and support the industry’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2030.
The joint proposals will see trees planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England together with work to restore original woodland and improve natural habitats that themselves provide carbon capture.
While some of this land is owned by the water companies themselves, additional land will be provided by partners such as local authorities, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and The RSPB.
Local partnerships with councils and regional NGOs will ensure that projects include urban tree planting, to bring health and wellbeing benefits to communities in towns and cities. In addition, The Woodland Trust has agreed to work with all the water companies to help identify sites and manage the planting programme once it is developed.
The companies, including the nine major water and sewerage providers in England, have committed to fully deliver the habitat improvement programme, which will include hedgerows and grasslands as well as trees. The scheme will provide ‘nature corridors’ to offer significant biodiversity benefits as different habitats are connected.
Many water companies already work with charities on habitat improvement and regional planting programmes such as the National Forest and Northern Forest initiatives.
Richard Flint, chief executive of Yorkshire Water, who is helping to coordinate the project, said: ‘As an industry, the water sector is committed to fighting climate change through becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
‘Our ambitious pledge announced today will go a long way to meeting that target, and will also deliver greater biodiversity, improved water quality and better flood protection.
‘In recent years water companies in England have made significant contributions towards tackling some of the greatest environmental challenges that we face, and today’s announcement is just the latest example of that commitment to the environment.’