The Durham Woodland Revival project has been awarded £434,200 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore and reconnect woodland in the county.
The funding will enable it to work with partners Woodland Trust, Northwoods, Wear Rivers Trust and the Forestry Commission to bring neglected and under-managed woodland back into good condition and to boost woodland cover over a four-year period, starting this summer.
Focusing on 5,000 hectares of woodland within a 10-mile radius from Durham City, the project looks at different ways of managing a range of different woodlands. From the diverse ecosystems of ancient woodland to the conifer plantations established for the mining industry, now a source of timber and fuel.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said:
“We are thrilled to have been awarded this National Lottery Heritage funding.
“Woodlands are a fantastic potential resource for communities but unfortunately, woodland cover in some areas of our county is low and almost half of what we do have is undermanaged.
“This funding will play an essential part in allowing us to bring this woodland back into management. Allowing us to maximise the major benefits that woodland can offer, from making positive contributions to people’s mental and physical health to wildlife conservation and timber production.”
Sian Atkinson, The Woodland Trust’s senior outreach manager for the north of England, said:
“We are delighted that National Lottery Heritage Fund are supporting Durham Woodland Revival. The council and Woodland Trust have worked in partnership over a number of years to create new woods across the county for people and wildlife, and this funding will enable us to step up a gear and build on this, creating new and better habitats for wildlife and creating a deeper connection between communities and their local woods.”
Many of County Durham’s woodlands are close to towns and villages and the Durham Woodland Revival Project will encourage residents to enjoy a greater role in their management, offering opportunities for individuals and groups to learn about them, enjoy them and influence their use.
Local landowners will also be offered training, support and advice through the project, which is keen to promote joint working, particularly on sites close to council-owned woodland.