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Tree-planting scheme Woodlands For Water in parts of Norfolk must be embraced

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Turnstone by John Maiden - Hunstanton and coastal news

The Climate Change act 2008 requires that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are reduced and that everyone adapts to climate change risks. The Act also sets out a framework to deliver on these requirements.

I was reminded of this when reading the draft minutes of Hunstanton town council’s September meeting, because borough councillor Carol Bower mentioned in her report that West Norfolk had brought in several measures to address the growing concerns identified in the 2008 Act.

These included recycling rubbish, installing PV cells on borough property and converting to an entirely EV fleet of vehicles.

But she pointed out that it had now become obvious that much more action was needed.

Hopkins home site at Heacham (51846365)
Hopkins home site at Heacham (51846365)

To this end the council’s Climate Change strategy had been revised and the goal of carbon neutrality advanced to 2035.

Carol concluded her report as follows: “We’re certainly not dragging our feet in West Norfolk. I am on an Urban Wildlife Working Group and we are making recommendations, especially in planning to protect wildlife where we can. Much more importance is being given to landscaping and especially tree planting.”

Speaking as someone who has been campaigning on these issues for as long as I can remember, and certainly since European Conservation Year in 1970, I can see why young climate activists are so angry that it has taken politicians such a long time to realise that they are now in very real danger of doing too little, too late!

However, possibly because I have put a match to quite a few candles in my time, I firmly believe it is better to light one candle than curse the darkness! With this in mind, I welcome Carol’s reference to urban wildlife, landscaping and the need for more trees.

This is something that could fit in with a national initiative, to plant thousands of acres of new woodlands along rivers to help manage flood risks, improve water quality and benefit wildlife.

Six areas across the UK have been chosen for the ‘Woodlands for Water’ project including parts of Norfolk. The trees will be planted mostly on National Trust land and the project should be completed by 2025.

The scheme has been launched by the Government through DEFRA, with backing from the National Trust, Woodland Trust, the Rivers Trust and the Beaver Trust.

Planting or allowing trees to grow naturally on and around river banks can block the run-off of pollutants into waterways, keeping them cleaner, and slowing the flow of water to manage flood risks.

Creating woodland corridors along rivers can also help wildlife and make rivers more resilient to climate change by providing shade and cooling water temperatures.

It is hoped that planting trees will help contribute to a natural network of habitats along some of the 150,000 miles of watercourses in England as part of plans to boost nature in the country.

It might be little more than a stream for most of the year, but the Ringstead River, where it marks Hunstanton’s boundary with Heacham, needs to be restored as a wildlife corridor by planting trees along its length from Redgate Hill down stream.

In particular, the piece of land at the foot of the hill, currently being used as a dumping ground for soil from what I call the ‘hotchpotch homes’ site at Heacham, should be planted with trees to restore a vital haven for wildlife, which had been sadly lost.

Read more on environmental issues:

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