In January of this year, the UK Government unveiled plans for a new, innovative forest which will span the North of England, aptly named the ‘Northern Forest’.
The Woodland Trust, in collaboration with The Community Forest Trust, created the idea of this forest with the hopes of it having environmental, social and economic benefits. This innovative forest will span miles of land across the North of England with the route of the M62 being at the very core.
What exactly is the ‘Northern Forest’?
The Northern Forest is a huge, new forest which will cover a large area in the North of England. The country is currently losing tree cover, with the North of England’s woodland cover being just 7.6 percent, and this limited tree cover subsequently poses a threat to important habitats, such as ancient woodlands. The Northern Forest hopes to rectify this by creating a wide range of benefits through the vast amount of new woodland area it proposes to create. This forest will not only create new woodland areas, but it will maintain the existence of the already existing woods which this new forest will cover.
The Woodland Trust and The Community Forest Trust, including the five community forests of the City of Trees, White Rose Forest, Mersey Forest, HEYwoods and South Yorkshire Forest, will all be involved in this project. The proposed plan is to plant around 50 million trees, which will stretch for 120 miles and cover over 62,000 acres of woodland, with the first of these trees being planted at the Smithills Estate in Bolton just yesterday.
Where will this forest be?
Stretching from Hull right across to Liverpool, using the M62 as the spine of this forest and covering a vast amount of areas across the North of England, this forest will embrace the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and the Yorkshire cities of Leeds and Sheffield.
Yorkshire will be at the heart of this forest, which will span coast-to-coast from the seaside resort of Bridlington over to the North Westerly coastal destination of Southport.
People will be able to walk along the newly formed patches of woodland, which will join up to form larger ribbons of forests, and it has been said that small woodland creatures, such as Squirrels, will be able to travel from the North East Coast right over the to North West without setting foot on the ground.
Why are they building it?
The Northern Forest has been endorsed by the UK Government, as it forms part of their 25 year Environment Plan, which aims to work with businesses and communities to improve the UK’s environment.
The project aims to deliver a wide range of benefits, reducing the risk of flooding in key catchment areas being at the forefront of this.
The Northern Forest also hopes to support the rural economy through tourism, recreation and timber production, whilst encouraging people to connect with nature and subsequently improving health and well-being.
This extensive new woodland area will also aid the environment long-term, as it will lock up a huge amount of carbon, reducing the amount released into the atmosphere and subsequently helping to tackle climate change.
Environment Minister, Thérèse Coffey, states that “Planting more trees is at the heart of our ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan”, which contributes to “our pledge to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.”
When will this come to fruition?
This project plans to take 25 years to come to fruition, therefore coming to completion in time for the end of the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan. The Northern Forest will plant 2 million trees each year for a quarter of a century, therefore having planted its 50 million trees by the last year. This project aims to not only help the environment through its extensive tree-planting and new woodland areas, but it proposes to generate around 2 billion pounds for the economy.