More than 100,000 trees were planted in the Northern Forest during the November to March planting season under the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods programme – double the amount planted the year before.

Over the next 25 years the Woodland Trust and Community Forests are aiming to plant more than 50 million trees from Liverpool to Hull, connecting the community forests of the north.

As part of the ambitious woodland creation project, the Woodland Trust, thanks to funding from Defra, will contribute up to 85% of the costs to anyone wanting to plant more than half a hectare of woodland on their land through MOREwoods.

Emma Briggs, who heads up the Trust’s MOREwoods project, said:

“The area covered by the Northern Forest has below average woodland cover - just 7.6% compared to the UK average of 13% - but we have above average ambition and farmers, smallholders and other landowners are an integral part of our vision.

In 2019 we saw a huge spike in interest from landowners wanting to do their bit, not just for the Northern Forest but for climate change as well so we are delighted to see so many people rising to the challenge at this time of climate emergency.

“There are so many reasons to plant trees. They improve soil quality and stability, slow the flow of flooding, provide shelter for crops and livestock, attract pollinators, and can provide an additional cash crop, a source of fuel and a home for wildlife. And with our best ever subsidy, supported by Defra, there’s no better time to think about planting for a stronger, more viable future.”

Helen and Chris Neave, who own eco business Make it Wild, have pledged to plant 100,000 trees as part of the Northern Forest. They made a start last month with the planting of nearly 9,000 native trees and shrubs on land they own near Summerbridge, North Yorkshire.

The planting links areas of ancient woodland and new woodland creation planted two years ago, extending a habitat corridor across the landscape and contributing to the Nature Recovery Network. The site has lots of ancient and veteran trees and an area of beautiful hay meadow with more than 60 different species which has been designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC).

The trees they have planted include alder, bird cherry, crab apple, dog rose, dogwood, downy birch, field maple, goat willow, grey willow, hawthorn, hazel, oak, rowan, Scots pine and silver birch. The species were chosen to represent what is already in the area and to offer plenty of different food sources and habitats for insects, invertebrates, birds and small mammals.

Helen said:

“The support from the Woodland Trust, in terms of both funding and advice has been great. We are really looking forward to the explosion in biodiversity this planting scheme will bring.”

Farmer Ben Jackson, of Jackson Farms, Somerby, North Lincolnshire, planted 2.4 hectares of new woodland on his land in December with Steppes Travel after the company purchased a concession from him to help offset some of their carbon.

Jarrod Kyte, product and sales director at Steppes Travel said:

“Seeing this flat landscape transformed in such a short space of time has made me believe in the huge difference we can all make if we work together with shared vision and commitment.”

Some 3,825 trees and shrubs were planted at the farm by contractors Thorpe Trees, helped by staff from Steppes Travel. Species included hawthorn, hazel, dog rose, dogwood, aspen, alder, oak, silver birch, blackthorn, rowan, hornbeam, field maple, goat willow, downy birch, crab apple and bird cherry.

The land, adjacent to the River Ancholme, is prone to flooding and it’s hoped the trees will help alleviate that issue. Once established the woodland will be accessible to the public.

The Woodland Trust is currently taking applications for planting in the November 2020-March 2021 planting season. Applicants must be willing to plant currently non-wooded land at a density of 1,000-1,600 trees per hectare. The Trust will provide a wide range of native trees and shrubs, all sourced and grown in the UK to reduce the risk of disease and, once current restrictions are lifted, will visit the site to advise on what to plant where and, if eligible, arrange a contractor to plant.

Further information can be found at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/morewoods or by filling in an online enquiry form at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/enquiry

The Northern Forest will connect the Community Forests in the north of England – the Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, White Rose Forest and the HEYwoods Project – with green infrastructure and woodland created in and around major urban centres such as Chester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester.

With trees planted in the right place, the Northern Forest will: 

  • reduce the risk of flooding for up to 190,000 people
  • create thousands of new jobs
  • help tackle climate change by storing thousands of tonnes of carbon
  • cool and clean the air in towns and cities, helping to reduce the pollutants that cause childhood asthma and respiratory disease
  • improve water quality
  • make communities and individuals happier and healthier
  • deliver economic benefits through the production of wood fuel and timber and wider economic benefits 
  • provide opportunities for recreation, tourism and leisure
  • create attractive places in which to live, work and invest.

Notes to editors

For media queries please contact Dee Smith in the Woodland Trust press office at deesmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:  

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is providing £5.7 million to help accelerate tree planting in the Northern Forest. Specifically, this will fund the planting of 1.8 million new trees by 2022 including hundreds of thousands of trees through the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods programme. Defra continues to work closely with the Woodland Trust and Community Forests as they take this forward.