An Edinburgh forest nursery is distributing nearly three quarters of a million trees to schools and community groups across the UK as part of a scheme to help tackle climate change.

East Lothian nursery Alba Trees, is providing a range of packs to suit different needs on behalf of the Woodland Trust on a first come first served basis to any groups that will use them to help green public spaces.

Nearly 4,000 schools and other groups will receive 718,000 saplings this month, thanks to the initiative which is funded by Sainsbury’s, People’s Postcode Lottery, Yorkshire Tea and Selfridges.

In Scotland alone, 69,855 trees are being sent out to 339 different organisations.

Woodland Trust Scotland Director Carol Evans said tree planting had never been higher on the social and political agenda, amid increasing public awareness that we are in a climate crisis.

“People are waking up to the message that trees are a big part of the solution to tackling climate change,” she said.

“We need more of them so it is fantastic that we are able to provide these free trees for schools and communities across the country”.

Woodland Trusts’s Big Climate Fightback aims to get more than a million people to pledge to plant a tree on the run up to a mass day of planting across the UK on November 30.

“Reducing our carbon emissions will never be enough. It’s vital we grow a UK-wide patchwork of trees and woods - not just by planting, but also through natural regeneration,” the campaign says. “The woods, hedges and green spaces we create buffer existing habitats, tackle climate change and reverse wildlife decline – all at the same time.”

Groups are also being invited to apply for a free tree pack as part of the next round of deliveries which will be sent out in March 2020, with organisations that apply getting added to a list of trustees.

As well as schools – which must plant the trees on the school grounds – community groups are eligible so long as the trees are planted on land which is publicly accessible.

Applicants must provide a grid reference for the land they wish to plant on, and also secure the permission of the landowner if necessary or demonstrate local community support.

The packs will be allocated until they run out, but those applying will need sufficient space: the smallest packs are for restricted urban spaces but still include 15 trees, while larger packs contain up to 420 trees – enough to fill a football pitch.

Depending on a group’s requirements, would-be planters can choose from eight different categories of pack.

The Hedge pack contains 30 trees, a mix of dog rose, hawthorn, hazel, crab apple and dogwood, enough for eight metres of ‘easy to manage’ hedging. Copse contains enough saplings to plant a “small tranquil copse” that is an oasis for birds, including silver birch, rowan and wild cherry.

Wild Harvest includes species such as hazel, blackthorn, crab apple and elder, which will produce an array of fruits and nuts suitable for preserving as jams, jellies, wines or cordials, while the ‘Year Round Colour’ pack promises beautiful blossoms, bright berries stunning shades in the autumn and includes wild cherry and dogwood.

The industrious can order a Working Wood pack which will provide logs for fuel in 7-10 years or materials for crafts such as carving and willow weaving. This pack includes common oak, field maple and grey willow. Groups seeking something less domesticated, or those with exposed sites or boggy ground can request a Wild Wood pack, which includes hawthorn, holly, downy birch and goat willow.

The popular Wildlife pack aims to provide both food and shelter for beasts large and small, and includes a mix of traditional species such as hawthorn, blackthorn and silver birch. Finally the Urban Trees pack - which is designed for residential areas with limited communal space - offers a mixture of 15 saplings from three species, crab apple, rowan and hazel , all well-equipped to thrive in urban settings.

All the trees are sourced in the UK and grown under the Trust’s quality assurance scheme guaranteeing the provenance of native trees.

Launched last year the UKSG (UK Sourced and Grown Assurance Scheme) guarantees that trees awarded the badge are raised from seeds sourced only from the UK and grown in the UK for their entire lifespan.

The aim is to reduce the risk of importing pests and diseases with planting stock grown outside the UK. Groups wishing to apply can visit

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust aims to protect and restore ancient woodland while planting native trees to create “resilient” woods benefitting both people and wildlife.