Horticulture: Regional Planning and Development

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 28th February 2022.

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Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Conservative, North West Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential role of horticulture, including national plant collections, parks and gardens in delivering the Government's levelling up agenda from a cultural perspective.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra is leading the £5.77 million cross-Governmental project to test and evaluate green social prescribing in seven test and learn sites and to run national research work to understand its scalability. This can include the prescribing of gardening projects and activities in parks. We have also committed to treble tree planting rates in England, and bring trees closer to people, through trees on streets, in parks and urban orchards, supported through the Urban Tree Challenge and Local Authority Treescape Funds. In addition, Defra and Natural England are working with other partners and stakeholders to develop a Green Infrastructure Framework. This will show what good green infrastructure looks like, including parks, woodlands and community food growing.

In order to support all these initiatives, we will need a thriving horticulture sector to provide the necessary plants, flowers and trees, and we are looking at the opportunities and barriers that the horticulture sector faces to support sustainable growth in the sector, so that more of our plants and flowers can be sourced from our own domestic growers.

On national plant collections, Defra has also committed to funding a £15 million project to digitise a significant proportion of the Herbarium at Kew Gardens. The Herbarium is the world’s largest collection of plant and fungal specimens, with specimens collected over 170 years, including those collected by Charles Darwin. The significant injection of government funding will protect irreplaceable samples from deterioration and allow researchers from across the country and the globe to access the historic collection, help conserve nature and find solutions to some of the most critical challenges facing humanity.

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