Log in | Register

Northern Forest to be created

Words: Laura Edgar
Planting a new Northern Forest / Shutterstock_191276147

The Woodland Trust and the Community Forest Trust have received government support for their plans to create a Northern Forest comprising more than 50 million trees over 25 years.

The forest is expected to cover Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Chester and Hull, as well as major surrounding towns.

It aims to deliver major environmental, social and economic benefits that “complement the significant growth, investment and new infrastructure that is planned for the north of England”.

The two trusts said the Northern Forest would accelerate the creation of new woodland and support sustainable management of existing wood across the planned area.

More trees, woods and forests will improve air quality in towns and cities; mitigate flood risk in key catchments; support the rural economy and connect people with nature.

In 2016, just 700 hectares of tree planting took place – at least 4,000 hectares fewer than the government’s target of 5,000 hectares to be planted a year.

Austin Brady, director of conservation, Woodland Trust said existing work to increase woodland cover are “stalling”, with current delivery mechanisms, such as Community Forests, under threat.

“A new Northern Forest could accelerate the benefits of community forestry, support landscape scale working for nature, deliver a wide range of benefits, including helping to reduce flood risk, and adapt some of the UK’s major towns and cities to projected climate change.

“The North of England is perfectly suited to reap the benefits of a project on this scale. But this must be a joined-up approach. We’ll need to continue to work with government, and other organisations to harness new funding mechanisms such as those promised in the Clean Growth Strategy to plant extensive areas of woodland to lock up carbon. This will ensure we can make a difference long term.”

Paul Nolan, director of the Mersey Forest, added that the Northern Forest, which has five community forests within it boundaries, will “complement” the planned £75 billion of infrastructure investment across the M62 corridor.

The government has provided £6 million to launch the project, with the announcement forming part of its upcoming 25 Year Environment Plan, which will set out how “we can be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it”.

Further details on this will be set out this week, said the government.   

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “This new Northern Forest is an ambitious and exciting project that will create a vast ribbon of woodland cover in northern England stretching from coast to coast, providing a rich habitat for wildlife to thrive, and a natural environment for millions of people to enjoy. This new forest will help us deliver a green Brexit and help to deliver on our pledge to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

There are five community forests that sit within the proposed area for the Northern Forest including, City of Trees, White Rose Forest, Mersey Forest, HEYwoods and South Yorkshire Forest.

Image credit | Shutterstock