Millions of trees to be planted in new 'Northern Forest' incorporating South Yorkshire

Around 50 million trees are set to be planted to create a new 'Northern Forest', incorporating Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire.

Sunday, 7th January 2018, 8:50 am
Updated Sunday, 7th January 2018, 3:55 pm
The Nothern Forest will generate a 2bn boost for the region, it has been estimated (photo: Woodland Trust)

Ambitious plans by the Woodland Trust to plant trees covering around 62,000 acres of land have been backed with £5.7 million of government funding.

The new 'forest' would stretch along the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Hull, under proposals, and extend down into Sheffield and other parts of South Yorkshire.

This map produced by the Woodland Trust shows the extent of the Northern Forest

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It has been designed to connect the five 'Community Forests' in the north of the country: South Yorkshire Community Forest, the Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, the Leeds White Rose Forest and the HEYwoods Project.

The South Yorkshire Community Forest was established in 1991 to promote tree planting and transform 'ugly' and 'abused land' across the region into 'beautful' landscapes.

Planting for the Northern Forest is scheduled to take place over the next 25 years, at a cost of £500m, beginning this March in Bolton.

The scheme's backers, which include the Heritage Lottery Fund, claim it will generate a £2bn boost for the area through a combination of tourism, new jobs, increased house prices and other factors.

This map produced by the Woodland Trust shows the extent of the Northern Forest

Austin Brady, director of conservation at the Woodland Trust, said: "The Northern Forest will accelerate the creation of new woodland and support sustainable management of existing woods right across the area.

"Planting many more trees, woods and forests will deliver a better environment for all - locking up carbon on a large scale, boosting wildlife habitat and greening our towns and cities.

"The Woodland Trust and Community Forests will use new and innovative mechanisms to engage communities and a wide range of partners in delivering the forest."

Just 7.6 per cent of the north is covered with woodland, according to the trust, which is well below the UK average of 13 per cent and the EU average of 44 per cent.

The charity says more trees are sorely needed in the UK, with the 700 hectares of new trees planted last year falling well shy of the Government's 5,000-hectare target.

It is not known at this stage exactly where in South Yorkshire planting is likely take place.