Northern Forest welcomed 'but government must do more to protect ancient forests'

By Agencies
January 8, 2018

The Woodland Trust and The Community Forest Trust's plans to create a new Northern Forest of over 50 million trees over 25 years, which will stretch from Liverpool across to Hull with the M62 as its spine, has received Government backing.

The project will embrace the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Chester and Hull as well as major towns across the north. 

With a population in excess of 13 million that is expected to rise by nine per cent over the next 20 years, and with woodland cover at just 7.6 per cent, below the UK average of 13 per cent, and far below the EU average of 44 per cent, the North of England is ripe to reap the benefits of such a project.

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.”

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.

Commenting on government backing for the Northern Forest, Friends of the Earth Senior Nature Campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said, “England is one of the least wooded nations in Europe, so government backing for the new Northern Forest is extremely welcome.

“But it’s a supreme irony that the current routing of HS2 threatens 35 ancient woodlands north of Birmingham. We need new forests and ancient woodlands – not one or the other.

“Well-managed woodland brings numerous benefits from absorbing carbon and helping to prevent flooding to aiding public recreation and learning, as well as the pure enjoyment of the outdoors.

“Communities across England also face threats to their local parks and green spaces through developments and council cuts.

“Ministers must do far more to rescue the UK’s declining nature, and give every child a right to experience it every day.”

Download the Northern Forest overview document here 

* HEYwoods http://www.heywoods.org.uk/

* The Woodland Trust https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/

* Friends of the Earth https://friendsoftheearth.uk/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.