North Oxfordshire MP and farming minister Victoria Prentis visited Blenheim to launch a national drive to increase tree planting in England.

The Blenheim Estate is set to receive significant funding to create over 100 hectares of woodland planted with 270,000 trees.

A 15km circular trail will also be created between the estate and the local villages of Woodstock and Wootton.

The funding comes from the Nature for Climate Fund’s England Woodland Creation Offer, managed by the Forestry Commission.

This major tree planting drive forms part of the Government’s efforts to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, and work towards nature recovery.

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Around 28 tree species will be planted in seven productive woodlands across the Blenheim Estate to connect corridors of wildlife and provide homes for species-rich diverse habitats.

The woodlands will also benefit water quality and create new landscape and recreational opportunities.

This initiative is part of a new drive to encourage farmers and landowners across England to grow and manage more trees.

Through the campaign the Forestry Commission and Defra are highlighting the grant schemes and free specialist advice available with the potential for land managers to receive a grant of over £10,000 for every hectare of new woodland created.

Woodland creation is one of the options for farmers as part of England’s new agriculture policy.

Speaking on the Woodland Creation Offer, Ms Prentis said: “Our new schemes are about supporting the choices that individual farmers and landowners make for their own holdings.

"These grants are available to help farmers and landowners grow and manage more trees as a profitable part of their overall business model, and I would encourage them to look at that support where they feel that it is the right choice for their business.”

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Blenheim Estate Director Roy Cox said it was a bold step to ensure the well-being of the countryside.

He said: “This unprecedented tree planting project is the largest England Woodland Creation Offer agreement to date in the South East, covering 104 hectares this season, with more planned.

“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 and sequester 22,000 tonnes of carbon over 30 years."

The drive follows publication of the Government's England Trees Action Plan last year which committed to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament – to at least 7,000 hectares of trees per year in England.

This equates to just 0.08 per cent of the 9.3 million hectares of farmland in England changing to woodland each year by the end of that period.