Northern Forest plan for 50 million trees gets £15m funding boost

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Young trees in front of a woodImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Northern Forest initiative hopes to increase tree cover around major conurbations to 20%

More than a million new trees will be planted after a project creating a Northern Forest stretching across the country received £15m of funding.

The government money will help create 1,660 acres of woodland for the scheme, which aims to link trees from coast to coast, the Woodland Trust said.

It hopes to establish 50 million trees in cities including Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull.

Three million trees have so far been planted as part of the scheme.

The funding will help another million trees go in the ground in 2022, according to the Woodland Trust which is working with community forests to create the new woods.

The area to be covered by the Northern Forest is one of the most denuded in England, with tree cover at less than 8%.

TV presenter George Clarke, who backs the scheme, said: "Being a northerner myself we are proud of some of the glorious countryside we have up here but it's always surprising to me how low tree cover is in the region.

"We desperately need more trees up here for both people and wildlife."

Image caption,
The project was launched in early 2018, with three million trees planted so far

The whole project will cost £500m over 25 years, with the majority of the funds needing to be raised through charitable giving.

Simon Mageean, the Woodland Trust's programme director for the Northern Forest, said: "This new funding is massively significant for this project and enables us to push on with this new phase.

"Not only do these new trees have the power to transform people's lives through all the green space they bring in areas of traditionally low tree cover, they are also set to bring a big boost to our fight against climate change and encourage nature recovery."

Friends of the Earth previously criticised ministers for allowing ancient woodland to be cut down for HS2, stating the planting of new trees was not comparable to the value in biodiversity of ancient forest.

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