50 million new trees scheme boosted by £15m of funding from govt


A scheme to plant 50 million trees in the north of England has been given almost £15m of funding by the government.

The Northern Forest will connect five community forests across the north of the country, creating a band of native broadleaf trees such a oaks, and conifers like spruce and pine.

Planting will span a 120-mile stretch along the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Hull, totalling 25,000 hectares of forest.

The money has been made available through the government’s £640m Nature for Climate fund – £6m will go directly to the Northern Forest to support the Woodland Trust’s “Grow Back Greener” programme, while £8.8m will go to Community Forests within the Northern Forest area through the recently announced “Trees for Climate” programme.

Autumn colours in Smithills Estate woodlands, Bolton: One million new trees will be planted as part of the Northern Forest project
The Smithills Estate near Bolton where the Northern Forest first took root three years ago

It will help another million trees go in the ground in the next year, according to the Woodland Trust which is leading the project.

Tracey Garrett, from the Woodland Trust, manages the Smithills Estate near Bolton where the Northern Forest first took root in 2018.

Since then three million trees have already been planted, 60,000 of them at Smithills.

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She says the money invested by the government is being well spent.

“Trees benefit people in lots of different ways,” she told Sky News.

“First of all they clean out air, they help stop flooding, they provide jobs, they create money in the local economy, and they are also a really important tool in the fight against climate change.”

The Woodland Trust work in partnership with a number of community forests in the north – The Mersey Forest, City of Trees, White Rose Forest, and Heywoods.

Jessica Thompson, director at City of Trees, added: “We are entering a very significant phase in the delivery of the Northern Forest.

“This investment must not only provide the means to ensure our landscape is resilient to our changing climate, but also have a positive impact on people’s lives in the north.”

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England currently has the lowest percentage of woodland cover in Europe, just over 10% compared to the European average of over 35%, and the North has the lowest percentage in England, just 7.6%.

Trees have been lost to infrastructure and development projects, and a lack of tree-planting projects have meant few new woodlands are growing to replace them.

The scheme’s backers hope the project – part of the government’s 25-year environment plan – will help meet targets to cuts climate change emissions.

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