ASHBOURNE’S community groups are being invited to apply for free trees to be planted at the end of this year.
The Woodland Trust is putting more than half a million trees up for grabs, after giving away another 500,000 trees to schools and communities before Christmas.
Schools and community groups can apply for the free trees - in different sizes and themes - to make their schools, neighbourhoods and communities greener, and will receive them in November.
Community groups such as parish councils, sports clubs, Brownies and Scouts can apply for a small pack with 30 trees, medium packs with 105 trees, or a large pack with 420 trees.
Schools are automatically eligible for free packs of 30 trees, in either a 'hedge' or 'copse' theme, but can apply to be considered for the medium and large packs if they wish.
Schools and communities applying for the medium and large tree packs can choose from six themes – trees ideal for year-round colour, wild harvest, wildlife, wetland, working wood and wild wood.
Beverley Gormley, the Trust's tree packs project manager, said: "Planting trees is a simple yet effective way to improve our environment, and with these free tree packs it couldn’t be easier to do.
“It’s also the perfect way to get communities doing something meaningful together for their local area which will bring benefits for years to come.
“We hope as many people as possible will snap up these tree packs before they run out.”
The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with just 13 per cent woodland compared to 44 per cent on the continent.
Only a third of this is native woodland, and the Woodland Trust wants to double this by helping people plant trees.
Trees provide habitat and food for wildlife, they produce oxygen, absorb carbon and lower pollution.
When planted in the right places, they can and help reduce flooding by breaking up hard ground with their roots, allowing water to be absorbed into the soil more easily.
The tree packs have been funded by lead partners Ikea Family, Biffa Award and Sainsbury’s, and also by WHSmith, Wilkinson and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Anyone wanting to apply for trees should do so online at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/freetrees
The deadline for applications is September 4.