I am one hundred per cent behind ambitious plans to plant a Northern Forest and I would like to appeal to anyone who can to get involved. I was pleased to be able to reiterate my support at a Conservative Environment Network (CEN) event in Manchester celebrating British forests and trees. The plan to plant 50 million trees across the North, including in North Yorkshire, is certainly challenging but very doable.
The Northern Forest is a Woodland Trust initiative in partnership with The Mersey Forest, City of Trees, White Rose Forest, Heywoods and the Community Forest Trust to help tackle climate change and encourage nature-rich landscapes, reduce the risk of flooding, create thousands of new jobs, cool and clean air in towns and cities and improve health and well-being. They estimate that planting 50 million trees across an area of 13 million people, but which currently has only 7.6% woodland cover will bring an estimated £250 billion of social, economic and environmental benefits.
The Slow the Flow natural flood management scheme in Pickering, involving environmentally friendly solutions such as tree planting, is an excellent example of the kind of benefit such schemes can bring to local communities along with the many economic opportunities derived from Keldy and Dalby Forests in North Yorkshire.
Since I became MP I have been invited to a number of tree plantings in local communities by people who have got in touch with me across the constituency. We can all get involved by planting trees wherever we live, volunteering or making a financial contribution to this fantastic scheme. Not only will 50 million trees absorb hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon every year, they will help reduce flooding, contribute to biodiversity and they will bring huge health benefits by making us all feel better about ourselves.
Speaking at the event DEFRA Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers MP, said she was delighted that DEFRA has pledged more than £5 million pounds towards the scheme and promised her ongoing support.“I love trees; I want tree planting to be central to my time as Secretary of State. Reaching net zero carbon emissions requires us to plant millions of new trees whilst conserving our existing natural environment and the thousands of acres of trees which already capture carbon. It’s important that the tree planting is done to a high standard, with diversity and respect to the natural habitats whilst taking the local communities with us.”
For more information about how to get involved visit https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/we-plant-trees/the-northern-forest/
Kevin Hollinrake MP, Member of Parliament for Thirsk and Malton
Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Sam Hall, Director, Conservative Environment Network