More than 600,000 trees are set to be planted across Northumberland over the next two years, with England’s largest woodland planting scheme in decades given the go-ahead by the Forestry Commission.
Thanks to government funding, Doddington North Moor has been given consent to plant a new 350-hectare forest near Wooler in Northumberland – the largest of its kind to be planted in England for over 30 years.
The forest, which will span the equivalent of over 650 football fields, will help to enhance populations of the iconic red squirrel, while storing over 120,000 tonnes of carbon and helping to manage flood risk in the area. With the forestry and timber processing industry a major employer in the region, the project is also set to bring a boost to local businesses and will generate a number of new jobs.
It joins another successful project that has just been approved this week in the Lake District, with government funding helping the Lowther Park Estate plant more than 200,000 trees over 170 hectares of their land.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey welcomed the decision, saying: “Our forests and woodlands are some of our most vital and cherished natural assets, and planting more trees is at the heart of our ambition to protect the environment for future generations.
“Doddington North Moor will make a significant contribution to our drive to plant 11 million trees across the nation and is a fantastic example of the kind of tree planting schemes we want to see more of. I hope this will signal a wave of similar projects to come forward and help other landowners realise the benefits of woodland creation.”
Richard Greenhous, Director of Forest Services at the Forestry Commission said: “We have worked very closely with the applicant, Natural England and the Environment Agency to help shape this important project into something we can all be proud of.
“We stand ready to support more large scale woodland creation projects that will deliver the government’s and the forestry sector’s ambitions to plant more trees across the country.”
Andy Howard, Doddington North Moor project manager, said: “I’m delighted that we have gained approval from the Forestry Commission for our afforestation project at Doddington North. There needs to be a major uplift in the planting of new woodlands in England, and hopefully us starting to plant trees at Doddington and the lessons learnt from the application process can unlock interest from further potential applicants.”
Planting at Doddington is expected to begin in March 2018 and will be phased over the next two to three years.
Doddington has been developed over the last two years with support from the government’s Woodland Creation Planning Grant. It anticipated the planting will be funded through other schemes such as the Woodland Carbon Fund and Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation Grant.
Under the Countryside Stewardship scheme landowners can apply for up to £6,800 per hectare to plant more trees, reaping the environmental and financial benefits of woodland creation – and improvements have been made to this scheme this year to make it easier to apply.
Funding is also available for larger scale projects via the £19million Woodland Carbon Fund. The threshold for minimum applications for this funding has been recently reduced to 10 hectares, so that more projects can take advantage of this support.