6,000 hectare North East Community Forest given the green light

Credit: PA Images

Communities across the North East will see tens of thousands of trees a year planted as six councils form England’s newest community forest.

The multi-million pound, 30 year project, across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, and more urban areas of County Durham, will see the equivalent of almost 6,000 rugby pitches of new canopy cover created by 2050.

Map of the North East Community Forest

The North East Community Forest

In its first year it will receive £480,000 from the Trees for Climate Fund, with a target of thousands more trees across a range of yet to be identified sites.

The target will continue rising by 200ha every five years thereafter, until 1,500ha are planted between 2046 and 2050. In total that would see 6,000ha planted.

The North East Community Forest

How will the new forest be managed?

A Forest Manager and Community Woodland Officer will be employed and, over the next 12 months, they will be tasked with producing a Forest Plan, identifying where trees might be planted and consulting communities on their arboreal aspirations. This plan will then go out to full public consultation.

The six authorities have committed £75,000 a year towards the costs of this new forestteam, with match funding from the Trees for Climate Fund, and the team will then look to secure additional funding from other sources.

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How will it help tackle climate change?

The North East Community Forest will directly address the climate emergency that each ofthe six local authorities have declared by – when it is fully planted - capturing a massive155,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from the energy needs of30,000 homes in a year.

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How will the community be involved?

While the plans are being led by the six councils, and partners, the intention is that localcommunities, businesses and landowners are heavily involved in achieving the NECF’saims.

Anyone interested in potentially becoming involved with the project can find out more on the Newcastle City Council website or email northeastcommunityforest@newcastle.go.uk to be kept up to date with information and opportunities as they become available.

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Over the last 30 years there have been 11 community forests created in England, the most recent of which – Plymouth and South Devon – was announced in June.

Located in and around some of the nation’s largest towns and cities each is a collaboration between councils and local, regional and national organisations, who work to enact a government-approved 30-year vision for landscape improvement known as a forest plan.