Oct 21 2021

£14.8 million boost to breathe new life into the Northern Forest

Almost £15 million of funding is being  pumped into the Northern Forest in the next year with just over one million new trees (at least 670 hectares) established.

The ambitious project, which aims to link trees across the M62 corridor from Liverpool to Hull, was launched in 2018 and already 3 million trees have been planted.

This has been made possible with funding from the Government’s £640 million Nature for Climate fund. £6 million will go directly to the Northern Forest to support the Woodland Trust’s Grow Back Greener programme, while £8.8 million will go to Community Forests within the Northern Forest area through the Trees for Climate programme announced recently. Fighting climate change and nature recovery are central to the ambitions of these projects.

Overall, the Grow Back Greener programme aims to deliver over 1200 hectares of new woodland by 2025, and includes a range of work-streams that will:

  • Create new native woodlands to link and buffer ancient woodlands, helping to build their resilience and create richer, more connected landscapes.
  • Support native woodland creation through natural processes (natural colonisation) where this has a good chance of success.
  • Test and trial a ‘stacked’ funding model with the Wyre Rivers Trust in Lancashire that unlocks land for native woodland creation, particularly along riparian zones.
  • Test and trial a model where land is leased from a farmer, a third party brings the skills and experience to design and create new native woodland and shares the long-term income with the landowner.

The Woodland Trust will be working with a range of ‘Delivery partners’ including the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District National Park Authorities, Ribble Rivers Trust, and others to help deliver the programme.

The recent  press launch of the new funding  went really well  with over 194 articles in the press  and reach of 21 million. This included Sky News TV with Tracey Garrett from our Smithills Estate, as well as coverage in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times, iPaper, Daily Star, Yorkshire Post and web /  Apple News.  Thanks to Andy Bond in our press team and staff across the North who did interviews! 

Simon Mageean, the Woodland Trust’s Programme Director for the Northern Forest, said: 

“This new funding is massively significant for this project and enables us to push on with this new phase. It will allow us to establish over one million new trees this winter and connect them better to the wider landscape, together with new woodlands in urban areas and rural areas across the Northern Forest. Not only do these new trees have the power to transform people’s lives through all the green space they bring in areas of traditionally low tree cover, they are also set to bring a big boost to our fight against climate change and encourage nature recovery.”

The Northern Forest was launched three years ago and is an ambitious plan to establish at least  50 million trees to encourage greater tree and woodland cover across an area spanning 13 million people and taking in the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull. It’s an area that only has 7.6% woodland cover – much lower than the England average.  To date over 3.5 million trees have been planted by the core partners since the Northern Forest was launched.

As well as the Woodland Trust, the Northern Forest involves a partnership of community forests in the north – The Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, White Rose Forest, and HEYwoods – which are working with the Woodland Trust to bring the Northern Forest to life.


Paul Mosley – Comms & Engagement Manager, North

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