Lancaster City Council has announced plans to plant a million trees across north Lancashire to help boost the Northern Forest project.
The project – part of The Woodland Trust’s plans to expand the North of England’s woodland cover by 2042 – will bring ‘huge’ benefits to Lancashire including boosting air quality, mitigating flood risk and supporting the rural economy, the council said.
The council plans to plant trees and hedgerows on its own land and will also contact landowners across the district to ask them to provide space for planting.
Cllr Kevin Frea, deputy leader of Lancaster City Council, said: ‘As well as helping us to meet the carbon reduction targets we set on declaring a Climate Emergency, the new Northern Forest will have huge benefits for people and wildlife for many centuries to come.
‘Trees increase biodiversity, reduce air pollution and provide a place for people to walk and relax, improving mental health through contact with nature.
‘I hope that everyone will embrace this ambitious project and get involved by either identifying suitable land or volunteering to plant trees.’
The North of England currently has woodland cover of just 7.6%, almost half as much as the UK average of 13%.
The Defra-funded Northern Forest aims to rectify this by planting 50 million new trees across the entire width of England from Liverpool and Chester to the East Riding of Yorkshire coast.
It is estimated that the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding for up to 190,000 people, create thousands of new jobs and help tackle climate change by storing thousands of tonnes of carbon.
The Woodland Trust said that getting farmers, smallholders and landowners on board with the project forms an ‘integral part’ of the trust’s plans.
Helen Chesshire, The Woodland Trust’s senior farming adviser, said: ‘A well-devised and implemented agroforestry system can pay dividends.
‘Trees can provide shelter for crops and livestock, improve soil quality and stability, reduce surface run-off, attract pollinators and provide an additional cash crop as well as a home for wildlife.’
‘With our best-ever subsidy, there’s no better time to think about planting for a stronger more viable future.’
The Woodland Trust has offered people open to planting trees on their land cost contributions of up to 85% as part of its MOREwoods scheme.
The trust will offer interested people options from a wide range of native trees and shrubs, advise on where to plant the trees and arrange a contractor to plant them.
The trust has started taking applications for the November 2019 – March 2020 planting season, while Lancashire City Council is asking residents for help to plant the trees.
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