Over a million new trees are to be planted next year to link woodlands across the North of England, from Liverpool on the West coast, to Hull on the East coast, with almost £15m from the government’s Nature for Climate fund.
The Northern Forest project will ultimately establish at least 50 million trees, and create at least 670 hectares (1,660 acres) of new woodland across an area spanning 13 million people and taking in the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.
According to the Woodland Trust, which is supporting the forest through it’s “grow back greener” initiative, the area currently only has 7.6 per cent woodland cover – much lower than the average for England – and it is hoped the plan will encourage even greater tree and woodland cover, while also helping to tackle the climate crisis and boost ecosystems.
The Northern Forest project was launched in 2018 and to date, 3 million trees have been planted.
Simon Mageean, the Woodland Trust’s programme director for the Northern Forest, said: “This new funding is massively significant for this project and enables us to push on with this new phase.
“It will allow us to establish over one million new trees this winter and connect them better to the wider landscape, together with new woodlands in urban areas and rural areas across the Northern Forest.”
He added: “Not only do these new trees have the power to transform people’s lives through all the green space they bring in areas of traditionally low tree cover, they are also set to bring a big boost to our fight against climate change and encourage nature recovery.”
It is hoped the creation of the new forest will provide benefits including reducing the risk of flooding, storing thousands of tonnes of carbon, helping make people across the region happier and healthier and it will also create “thousands of new jobs”, the Woodland Trust said.
In Leeds’ White Rose Forest, thousands of trees have been planted within the city’s catchment to alleviate the risk of flooding downstream.
Environment minister Lord Goldsmith said: “The Northern Forest is an outstanding example of how trees can benefit nature, climate and people. By creating woodlands close to urban and rural communities, we can provide greater links to nature in areas that need it most.
“There has never been a more exciting time for tree planting and I am delighted that through our Nature for Climate Fund we will see at least a million more trees being planted in the Northern Forest in the next year, contributing to our overall commitment to increase tree-planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this parliament.”
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