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Projects tackling some of the main risks to woodland will be given a £20million boost, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced.

Environment Secretary Ms Coffey said: “In the face of climate change and the growing prevalence of pests and diseases, it is imperative that we plant more trees whilst simultaneously building their resilience.” She called the fund “a major step forward towards our goal of trebling tree planting rates in England”.

Ms Coffey marked the start of National Tree Week on Saturday by planting a sapling in Suffolk helped by Sir William Worsley, chairman of the Forestry Commission.

The Green Britain Needs You crusade by the Daily Express calls on readers to help make room for nature. Ms Coffey said: “The value of trees to people and nature has never been clearer, and I know Express readers have been inspired by the paper’s campaign to make space for nature.”

The latest money, part of the Government’s £750million Nature for Climate Fund, will improve tree planting stocks, woodland resilience, domestic timber production and accelerate tree planting.

It will also drive woodland creation, create jobs, boost biodiversity and support innovative approaches to tree health, in the face of climate change and pests. The Woodland Trust said ash dieback disease may kill 80 per cent of the species, just as Dutch elm disease wiped out millions of elms.

Forestry Minister Trudy Harrison said: “Trees, forests and woodlands are the nation’s lungs – filtering our air, capturing carbon, providing habitats and serving as a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.

“Protecting our natural world can work hand-in-hand with building a stronger, healthier economy.”

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