Defra, England Community Forests and local councils across the North East area are today announcing the creation of a new Community Forest to bring people closer to nature in the North East.
The North East Community Forest sees six local authorities joining forces with environmental organisations to plant trees across the region.
The initiative aims to plant up to 500 hectares of trees by 2025, with a long-term goal to increase canopy cover across the north east to 30% by 2050 – almost double the current national average.
The partnership will work with people in the community, businesses and landowners with the aim of bringing forests and woodlands to those most in need across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.
Thousands of trees will be planted in the first year - up to 25ha, or around 35 football pitches – thanks to £480,000 in funding from Defra’s Nature for Climate Fund.
Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “I am delighted to welcome the North East Community Forest to the expanding network of Community Forests across England. Supported by our £640 million Nature for Climate Fund, we will plant many thousands of trees and help rewild areas that are most in need.
“Our economies, livelihoods and well-being all rely on nature, and tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss are at the heart of this project.
“Spending time in nature – particularly around trees – is proven to boost our physical and mental health and wellbeing, so I am pleased this project will be accessible to communities in Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.”
North Tyneside's Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, said: "North Tyneside has a long history of protecting and enhancing the environment and we are very proud of what our borough has to offer, such as our award-winning blue flag beaches, green flag parks and existing woodlands.
“In addition to being beautiful places to visit and enjoy, these places also play a vital role in helping us to mitigate against climate change and it is therefore my pleasure to support the creation of a North East Community Forest.”
Paul Nolan, Chair, England's Community Forests, said: “Today, the North East Community Forest has joined our thriving partnership of Community Forest organisations from across the country, all of whom are working to transform the landscapes and communities in and around our towns and cities.
“This is an incredibly exciting moment for the people of the North East as their new Community Forest sets out to create greener, more tree-filled and accessible spaces for all to enjoy, encourage biodiversity to thrive, support local economic growth and help the city region tackle climate change.
“We warmly welcome the North East Community Forest to our network and look forward to working side by side with all those involved.”
Anyone interested in potentially becoming involved with the project can find out more at www.newcastle.gov.uk/northeastcommunityforest or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept up to date with information and opportunities as they become available.