Dudley Council has joined a regionwide campaign which aims to plant a new tree for every West Midlands resident by 2035.

West Midlands Virtual Forest is a joint initiative where residents, charities, schools, businesses and local authorities can plot their tree planting online. Areas covered include the Black Country, Greater Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire.

As well as having its own tree-planting programme, Dudley Council will be working with local schools, community & friends groups and other organisations to plant as many trees as possible.

Trees planted will include whips, saplings and small trees. It's hoped around 45,000 of them will be planted across the borough over the next 15 years. The local authority also hopes to bid for funding through initiatives such as Trees For Cities and Tiny Forests.

People and businesses in Dudley borough are encouraged to play their part in meeting the target by planting trees in their own gardens. It's recommended that residents consider growing fruit trees such as apple, plum or pear, or small trees that help to encourage wildlife such as hawthorn, elder or holly.

It's hoped that Borough tree-planting sessions, where volunteers will be invited to help, will be organised in the future.

The newly planted trees will play an important role in supporting efforts to tackle climate change and improve the environment, with the website helping to chart the combined efforts of the region.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for public realm, said: "The scale of the climate emergency that we face requires ambitious acts to halt the decline, and tree planting is one big way in which we can help to reduce carbon.

"The Virtual Forest is an online space for mapping and tracking where trees are planted. It will help our borough to measure the fantastic work that’s happening.

"Over the next 15 years, Dudley Council is committed to playing its part in helping to meet the targets of the Virtual Forest, and I am calling on schools, charities, residents, landowners and businesses to also get involved by planting trees wherever they can.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: "The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is committed to making the region carbon-neutral no later than 2041, but in order to do that we're going to have to come up with bold plans to cut emissions. One of our plans as part of the #WM2041 campaign is to plant a tree for every resident across the West Midlands in our virtual forest, and I'm delighted to see Dudley Council’s involvement.

"But this campaign isn't just about big organisations committing to planting thousands of trees - every individual has a part to play and can add any tree they plant to our virtual forest. Please visit the website and see how you can get involved to help make the West Midlands carbon-neutral by 2041."

For further information on The Virtual Forest project, visit: WMVirtualForest.co.uk

Image: Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, planting a cherry tree at Walsall Arboretum in 2020