Huge North East community forest plan approved to include Sunderland, South Tyneside, County Durham
Hundreds of thousands of new trees will be planted across the North East after multi-million pound plans to “supercharge” the region’s green credentials were approved.
The Government has officially backed a 30-year project to create a new ‘community forest’, which will provide almost 6,000 rugby pitches worth of new tree canopy cover across Sunderland, South Tyneside County Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, and North Tyneside.
Rather than being one continuous forest area, the trees will be spread across different sites around the six areas.
It is hoped that the huge tree planting push will ultimately capture 155,100 more tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, equivalent to the emissions from 30,000 homes.
The successful North East bid means that the region joins 11 other community forests in England.
Council officials said that it was not possible at this stage to know exactly how many trees would be planted by 2050 under the plans, but the number will certainly be in the hundreds of thousands – if not millions.
Their target is to plant an initial 475 hectares worth of trees by 2025 and gradually increase that amount until 6,000 hectares are covered by 2050.
The exact cost of the massive scheme is also unknown, but it will get £480,000 in its first year alone from the Trees for Climate Fund and then “substantial Government funding” in the future.
Details of where the trees will be planted are yet to be announced, though Newcastle’s Town Moor has previously been confirmed as one site.
The six local councils involved in the scheme have agreed to put £75,000 a year towards it, after concerns were raised earlier this year over the amount that cash-strapped local authorities would have to pay.
Forestry minister Lord Goldsmith added: “I am delighted to welcome the North East Community Forest to the expanding network of Community Forests across England.
“Supported by our £640m Nature for Climate Fund, we will plant many thousands of trees and help rewild areas that are most in need.
“Our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing all rely on nature, and tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss are at the heart of this project.
“Spending time in nature – particularly around trees – is proven to boost our physical and mental health and wellbeing, so I am pleased this project will be accessible to communities in Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.”