A total of one million trees will be planted across 500 hectares

Partners from the Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership came together today (19 Nov) to attend the official launch event and ceremonial tree plant at Kirkharle Courtyard. The partnership aims to work alongside landowners, farmers and communities to enhance tree establishment across the county.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The Great Northumberland Forest is a plan to plant millions of trees, creating more wooded landscapes across the county by 2030 to help tackle the big challenges facing society such as climate change and biodiversity decline, while promoting health and wellbeing, and supporting a thriving local economy.”

The Forest has been developing the first phase of delivery with two Forestry England Woodland Creation schemes at Rusty Knowe in Kielder and Monkridge near Otterburn. A total of one million trees will be planted across 500 hectares of land between 2020 and 2024.

Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said: “This Woodland Creation Partnership successfully brings together key stakeholders from across the county to facilitate a change in pace and accelerate tree planting in Northumberland, planting the right tree in the right place for the right reasons. The Forestry Commission looks forward to our continued work with partners in Northumberland to help deliver well designed forests and woodlands for time to come.”

Jean Davidson, Chair of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted Northumberland National Park Authority is playing a key part in the Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership. The Authority is keen to ensure that tree planting enhances the landscape and biodiversity of Northumberland National Park, therefore it is pleasing that the Great Northumberland Forest has adopted the approach of ‘right tree, right place’. We look forward to working with our partners to achieve a sustainable and more wooded landscape in Northumberland.”

Jean Davidson, chair of Northumberland National Park Authority, stood with landscape in background

A variety of different woodland types and sizes will be created to suit local needs, including orchards, and small community woodlands, to larger-scale schemes which will bring together farming, forestry, biodiversity and recreation.

Cllr Sanderson added: “These new trees will be planted in places across our diverse county, in some places there will be slow growing native woodlands providing habitats for treasured wildlife. In others, faster growing, highly productive woodlands will rapidly absorb carbon and produce timber. Together they will be known as the Great Northumberland Forest.”

Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “I am pleased to see the progress that this trail-blazing Woodland Creation Partnership has made since its announcement in 2019. Further engagement with landowners, farmers and communities will help to support the ambitious commitment that our Government has made to treble tree planting by the end of this Parliament.

“Tree planting will play an important role in the governments net zero aspirations while also offering real benefits to the local residents in Northumberland.”

Long view of Barrow Burn Wood Nature Reserve, Northumberland, England

Long view of Barrow Burn Wood Nature Reserve, Northumberland, England

Also in attendance at the launch event was schoolgirl Elspeth Witts from Corbridge Middle School. The Year 6 pupil created the winning design for the Great Northumberland Forest badge and was presented with a £250 prize for her school from Cllr Sanderson.

Mrs J Kennedy, Head at Corbridge Middle School, said: “Learning about nature and the importance of tree planting in counteracting the climate crisis, alongside the loss of biodiversity, is hugely important for young people. They understand that they are facing some serious environmental challenges in the future, and finding out about the Great Northumberland Forest has been an enriching experience for our Year 6’s. We are immensely proud of Elspeth and her wonderful badge design – it is a great achievement.”

The launch marks the start of the acceleration of the process, made possible by Defra who have provided funding through Nature for Climate Fund to enable the partnership to do much more in promoting and enabling tree planting in Northumberland.

For more information, please visit https://nland.uk/GNF