Cheshire West and Chester to benefit from £12 million plan for 500 hectares of new woodland in England by 2021
7 December 2020The Mersey Forest will be one of 10 Community Forests across England planting more than 500 hectares of trees over the next five months, in a push to help deliver the Government’s tree planting targets.
The new programme - Trees for Climate - will see trees planted in Community Forests that span the country, from Yorkshire to Somerset.
When mature, the trees will eventually store over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of over 45,000 trans-Atlantic flights and contribute to meeting the government’s net zero by 2050 target.
The project will also reduce ﬂood risk, increase sustainable UK grown timber, provide more places for nature and biodiversity to thrive, and increase peoples’ access to and enjoyment of woodland. The funding will also create new jobs and secure existing ones within the forestry and environmental sector, helping to boost local economies as part of a green recovery.
Last year, Cheshire West and Chester Council declared a climate emergency and pledged to support schemes to accelerate tree planting in the area. Trees for Climate will help do just that – and the Council is playing a leading role nationally by acting as the legal accountable body for the whole programme.
In the next five months, The Mersey Forest Partnership is aiming to plant nearly 40 hectares of new woodland – about one and a half times the size of Chester Racecourse – around Merseyside and North Cheshire, within urban parks and green spaces and on farmland. Landowners should contact The Mersey Forest Team if they have land suitable for tree planting.
Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said: “Through this exciting new programme we will build back greener, as more communities - particularly those in urban environments – will have access to nature, with real benefits for health and wellbeing.
“Trees are the backbone of our urban and rural environments and essential in tackling the climate emergency. This vital programme will plant trees where they are most needed to stem flooding and provide more places for nature to thrive.”
Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said: “The Trees for Climate programme will plant more trees targeted at areas in Cheshire where they can make the greatest difference, in particular to local quality of life and levels of health and wellbeing. We've shown how trees and woodlands boost our local economy, reduce flooding, create new habitats for wildlife and increase community spirit.
“The national network of Community Forests has been working for over 25 years to bring nature closer to people and local communities and is perfectly placed to deliver real change, on the ground.”
Trees for Climate will help deliver against the goals in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and support Nature Recovery Networks across England. It has been drawn up together with The Community Forest Trust, the national charity for community forestry and is being delivered through Cheshire West and Chester Council, the accountable body for the programme.
As well as funding the tree planting activity itself, the grant will enable each of the Community Forests to manage all aspects of the new woodland creation carefully, including community and landowner engagement. New approaches to woodland creation and long-term management of woodland will also be developed.
Cheshire West and Chester’s Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Cllr Matt Bryan, said: “The Mersey Forest is a homegrown success story which has brought the green agenda right to the forefront in Cheshire and Merseyside. It has inspired many local residents to re-connect with nature and has created green oases within our region for everyone to enjoy.
“Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face at every level, from locally to globally and it’s vital that we all do our part to protect the planet for future generations.
“The Trees for Climate programme is an ideal opportunity for us all to take practical steps to combat climate change and to further enhance our natural landscapes.”
Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir William Worsley, said: “This exciting new programme will benefit local communities all across England - helping to increase access to nature, creating much needed jobs in the environmental sector and bringing invaluable benefits to people’s health and wellbeing.
“The £12.1 million boost will be a huge help both for getting trees in the ground, but also enabling each of the Community Forests to ensure they are well-managed in the long term, making sure these new woods can thrive to the fullest extent.”