Climate Action

New plans to create a ‘Northern Forest’ in England

The UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced plans to create a new 120 mile stretch of forest in the north of England.

  • 08 January 2018
  • Websolutions

The UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced plans to create a new 120 mile stretch of forest in the north of England.

The proposals, announced on Sunday, would mean over 50 million trees will be planted over the next 25 years between the cities of Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool.

Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“It is vital that we leave our planet in a better state than we found it, with cleaner air, stronger protections for animal welfare and greener spaces for everyone to enjoy”.

The government is providing an initial £5.7m towards the project, which is expected to unlock new sources of funding. The entire project is estimated to cost upwards of £500m over its entire lifetime.

The Northern Forest forms part of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and aims to protect local species, restore habitat loss, and improve air quality. The first planting will begin in March this year.

It is hoped that the forest will connect five existing Community Forests in the region and follow the lead of the National Forest, an initiative begun in the 1990s to create 200 square miles of new woodland in the Midlands.

Currently, an estimated 11% of the United Kingdom contains forest area, which lags behind other European countries, such as France (36%) and Germany (32%).

The UK’s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, commented:

“This new Northern Forest is an ambitious and exciting project that will create a vast ribbon of woodland cover in northern England stretching from coast to coast, providing a rich habitat for wildlife to thrive, and a natural environment for millions of people to enjoy”.

While the news was welcomed by environmentalists, others pointed out that ancient woodland was already being threatened elsewhere. Friends of the Earth Senior Nature Campaigner, Paul de Zylva, said:

“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”

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