Thousands of trees to be planted each year in South Tyneside as part of North East Community Forest project
The initiative aims to plant up to 500 hectares of trees by 2025, with a long-term goal to increase canopy cover across the region to 30% by 2050 – almost double the present national average.
The North East Community Forest project sees six local authorities joining forces with environmental organisations to plant trees across the region.
The partnership will work with people in the community, businesses and landowners with the aim of bringing forests and woodlands to those most in need across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.
Supported by Defra’s Woodland Creation Partnership via the Nature for Climate Fund, it aims to bring people in the North East closer to nature, contribute to the fight against climate change and help achieve tree-planting targets.
Thousands of trees will be planted in the first year - up to 25ha, or around 35 football pitches – thanks to £480,000 funding from Defra.
South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon said: “Investing in our natural and built environment is a key priority for the council and we have already committed to planting 3,000 trees a year in South Tyneside.
"By coming together as the North East Community Forest, we can really step up our regional response.
“As well as improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions, the North East Community Forest will help to improve biodiversity, further develop our wildlife corridors, and help to enhance our greenspaces for residents and visitors to enjoy.
“We are passionate about the environment and tackling the effects of climate change, which is why we have set ourselves a challenging but ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
“It is critical that we work collectively with key partners across the region in order to fully utilise our assets and capture the variety of benefits on offer.”
Councillor Dixon said the authority’s climate change strategy, Sustainable South Tyneside, is on track to meet its three-year carbon reduction target, with tree planting being a key part of the plans.
In 2018/19 5,332 trees were planted, and in 2019/20 a further 3,961.