A host of dignitaries joined together to plant the 6 millionth tree to mark five years since the start of the ambitious Northern Forest project to link up Liverpool to Hull with trees. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, joined the planting at Liverpool John Moores University.
The university recently conducted an impact assessment* of the Northern Forest which showed around 300,000 households have been given new access to nature since the project started, with the equivalent of more than 4,000 football pitches of trees planted.
Nick Sellwood, the Woodland Trust’s Northern Forest Programme Director, said the planting of the 6 millionth tree, on National Tree Week, is an important milestone.
He said: “It’s wonderful to see everyone coming together to mark this important milestone. It has been massively rewarding to see the Northern Forest expanding across the north where trees were desperately needed, levelling up tree cover with the south.
“These trees are already helping communities across the M62 corridor in many ways, from combating flooding to providing new areas of nature for people to access.
“We’ve a long way to go though and need politicians to keep committing to funding so that we can complete this ambitious project”
Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest and Chair of England’s Community Forests, said:
“The tree planted today is a symbol of the hard work and commitment of the Northern Forest Partnership and the communities that we work so closely with. Increasing woodland cover across the north will benefit our residents, the environment and economy for years to come and we can’t wait to help plant the next six million.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Wildlife is one of our region’s most precious natural assets and we need to do everything in our power to not only protect it – but to help it flourish. Every new tree planted makes a huge difference to our communities and, while we might be marking the final milestone today, the roots we’ve laid down will have a lasting, positive impact on our natural environment. This really is just the start of our journey to revitalising our region’s natural biodiversity – from our Local Nature Recovery Strategy, to our £1.3m Community Environment Fund, and our ambitious rewilding plans, we’re making great strides to protect our precious ecosystems.
“All of this work has a much bigger role to play in our ambition to reach net zero by 2040 – at least a decade ahead of national government targets – helping us to improve the quality of air our children breathe and secure a greener, cleaner future for the next generation. We’re only at the beginning of this journey but I’m confident that, working together, we can make a really positive difference to our people – and our planet.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Green spaces are so important to people’s quality of life, our environment and wildlife, and our mental wellbeing. The Northern Forest project is doing great work enhancing our environment, creating and renewing forests and green spaces for generations to come.”
The Northern Forest project kicked off in 2018, thanks to a core partnership involving the Woodland Trust and four Community Forests: Greater Manchester’s City of Trees, The Mersey Forest, Humber Forest and the White Rose Forest, and the Community Forest Trust.
Among its aims was to increase the very low tree cover across the north, which stands at just 7.6 per cent compared to the national average of 13 per cent, and is much lower than most counties in the south. They will achieve this by establishing at least 50 million new trees by 2043, helping to transform the landscape from Liverpool to the Yorkshire Coast.
It also aimed to lock up tonnes of carbon to fight climate change, generate billions of pounds of benefits to communities, reduce the risk of flooding and create more jobs. It has since expanded through villages, towns and countryside across the north connecting more people with nature.
The Northern Forest Partnership has hugely benefitted from the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund, which has played a major part in funding the 6 million trees planted so far through the Nature for Climate Funded Grow Back Greener and Trees for Climate programmes.