Storm-damaged woodlands in Northumberland in line for £1.5m Defra funding

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Up to 300 hectares of Northumberland woodland could be restored after Storm Arwen damage thanks to a £1.5m funding bump from the government.

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet is expected to green-light the two-year project, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Forestry Commission, next week.

This will be part of the council’s Great Northumberland Forest tree planting programme.

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Mark Child, Great Northumberland Forest programme manager, said: “I am thrilled that we are due to be awarded this funding as part of an incredibly important scheme. It is fantastic news for our county.

A number of wooded areas in Northumberland were damaged by Storm Arwen in November 2021.A number of wooded areas in Northumberland were damaged by Storm Arwen in November 2021.
A number of wooded areas in Northumberland were damaged by Storm Arwen in November 2021.

“There are lots of small farm woodlands and shelterbelts in our county that have been damaged or destroyed by recent severe weather events, particularly Storm Arwen.

“This has seen many landowners dealing with costs associated with timber recovery, clearance, repairs and replanting.

“It is for these woodlands that there is justification for encouraging replanting with this grant aid.”

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Areas where woodland is most at risk of being lost will be prioritised to ensure the most damaged locations in Northumberland recover quickly.

The council is hoping some landowners will see this as an opportunity to expand their tree coverage and help the county towards its ambition of reaching net-zero by 2030.

Sir William Worsley, chairperson of the Forestry Commission, said: “Woodlands are a critically important resource that provide a wide range of benefits to society, as well as playing a key role in helping us respond to the challenges of climate change.

“The support being provided to the Great Northumberland Forest will help increase resilience in targeted woodlands to ensure the resource is protected into the future.”

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Forestry minister Trudy Harrison added: “The Great Northumberland Forest will see millions of trees planted across the county, delivering a wide range of benefits for decades to come.

“By creating more wooded landscapes across Northumberland, the project will play a critical role in helping the UK meet its tree-planting ambitions whilst tackling climate change and biodiversity decline, and supporting the health and economic wellbeing of the community.”

Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This new government funding, on top of the 900 hectares of woodland and over 2.6 million trees already planted since 2021, is amazing news.

“This shows our commitment to conserving and protecting our environment and our climate.”