Ambitious plans to create a new “Northern Forest” that will stretch from Liverpool across to Hull in England have been kick-started following an announcement by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May on 07 January, 2018.
It is hoped that among the many environmental benefits, increasing the number of trees will help prevent flooding.
The Woodland Trust said that many more trees, woods and forests will deliver a better environment for all by improving air quality in our towns and cities and mitigating flood risk in key catchments.
Over the next 25 years the Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust are aiming to plant more than 50 million trees. Other benefits include supporting the rural economy through tourism, recreation and timber production; connecting people with nature; and helping to deliver improvements to health and wellbeing through welcoming and accessible local green spaces
The project will embrace the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Chester and Hull as well as major towns across the north. It will deliver major environmental, social and economic benefits that complement the significant growth, investment and new infrastructure that is planned for the north of England.
Austin Brady, director of conservation, Woodland Trust said: “England is losing tree cover. We need to make sure we are protecting our most important habitats such as ancient woodland as well as investing in new major woodland creation schemes. Existing approaches to increasing woodland cover are stalling and existing delivery mechanisms, such as Community Forests are 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 said: “The Northern Forest will complement the planned £75bn of hard infrastructure investment across the M62 corridor. We have shown that we can lock up over 7m tonnes of carbon as well as potentially reduce flood risk for 190,000 homes. The Northern Forest can also help to deliver improved health and wellbeing, through programmes such as the Natural Health Service. Community Forest Trust has a long track record of developing partnerships and, most importantly, working with local communities to create new woodlands and manage existing woods in and around our towns and cities. We welcome the government support for the idea and we are looking forward to accelerating the work of the Community Forest Trust across the Northern Forest.”
There are currently 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.
Featured image: Young trees. Photo credit: Garry Knight, CC BY 2.0