MILLIONS of trees are to be planted in the north of England in a bid to tackle climate change and boost biodiversity.

In the first phase of the project, the Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership said it would create new forests at Rusty Knowe in Kielder and Monkridge near Otterburn by 2024.

By 2030 the partnership said it hoped to have planted millions of trees.

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The plan also includes smaller scale projects such as planting new orchards and small, community woodlands.

“We already have a very high level of woodland cover, but we don’t want to rest on this and do nothing, we want to keep going,” said Glen Sanderson, the leader of Northumberland County Council.

“We want the right tree in the right place and as a farmer myself, I know there’s a balancing act to found.

“We’re not saying we’re going to do away with the plough and the cultivator, this is about finding a balance which is good for everyone, good for our communities and good for the country.”

Councillor Sanderson was speaking at Kirkharle, birthplace of famed garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, to kick off the programme, which is expected to see 500 hectares planted over the coming years at Rusty Knowe, in Kielder, and Monkridge, near Otterburn.

As well as large scale schemes, the project is also slated to include smaller orchards and “community woodlands”, which bosses hope will encourage further biodiversity, recreation  and tourism opportunities.

Forestry Journal:

The launch event was also attended by Berwick MP and international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, as well as Hexham MP Guy Opperman.

Elspeth Witts, 10, of Corbridge Middle School, was presented with a medal and £250 prize for designing a Great Northumberland Forest badge.

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Speaking about the forest proposals earlier this year, former Sunderland MP and member of the Northumberland National Park Authority Chris Mullin, urged planners to focus on the quality of trees being planted, not just the quantity.

But Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission, insisted the intention was not to create “another Kielder”.

He said: “There will be productive forest as well as amenity and community forestry.

“This is bringing trees to people, which is really important and will have so many benefits which we can all enjoy.

“It will leave the environment in a better state than we found it for the next generation.”
James Harrison