A proposal to plant more than 600,000 trees to create the largest new private-sector woodland in England for more than 20 years has been officially launched.
The plan, at Doddington North Moor, near Wooler, has a specific focus on extending the habitats favoured by red squirrels and helping to prevent future flood risks.
Andy Howard, project manager, said he was delighted with the level of public interest shown in the scheme at its public launch at the recent Glendale Show.
Mr Howard said: “Our proposal to plant over 600,000 new trees on a 354-hectare site (3.54km2) is an exciting step forward for much-needed new forestry planting in England.
“New productive woodlands have a very different set of standards we must comply with nowadays, the UK Forestry Standard, and our design for the Doddington North wood can provide a very diverse ecology with a wide range of species of tree, plant, bird and animal life supported.”
The area is in the Kyloe red squirrel buffer zone and increasing habitat supportive to red squirrels is a specific focus of the scheme. It will also provide flood mitigation measures, as two tributaries for the Till flood plain below the site in Glendale start on the moor. Moreover, the woodland will sequester over 130,000 tonnes of CO2.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of forestry trade body Confor, said: “The Doddington site is ideally suited to a modern, mixed woodland that will sit well in the landscape, deliver wood to support local jobs and create more places for wildlife. It will also make a significant contribution to the UK’s climate change reduction targets by locking up carbon in the trees.”
The forestry and timber processing industry is a significant employer in the Wooler and wider Northumberland area. The Doddington North woodland scheme is designed to create and support local businesses and employment, from the establishment phase of the forest through to harvesting when the trees are mature.
Paul Brannen MEP, Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England, said: “Nationally there is a wide consensus of opinion that we need to plant more trees. We need to plant more trees primarily because trees soak up CO2 thereby helping tackle climate change. Across the EU our forests absorb between 10 and 20% of our carbon emissions. They can also help reduce flooding, provide a recreational venue that is good for people’s health, create jobs and produce timber for the construction industry substituting for concrete which is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions globally.”
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick and vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry, said: “This is an excellent example of the kind of thoughtful, modern, multi-benefit forestry which we need in our rural areas.
“It will provide a significant supply of timber to support local businesses, as well as promoting wildlife habitats and contributing to reducing future flood risks. I have often stressed that if we drive up tree-planting as part of natural flood management schemes, we can have a major impact on reducing future flood risk. We are making progress in that area, but need to do much more.”
Robert Scott, managing director of sawmill A&J Scott Ltd, said: “An afforestation plan of this scale could be very beneficial to our business in the future. We have in recent years, expressed our concerns regarding the future supply of the raw material for our sawmill, from both the private and state sectors.
“It is clear that the volumes of saw log material will decline within the next 10 years and we are concerned that our ability to maintain a steady supply will be compromised, thus threatening the future of our business.”
The launch of the scheme at the Glendale Show was the start of the public consultation process for assessing whether the project can gain consent from Forestry Commission England.
The next major event in that process is an open public meeting to be held from 5.30pm on Tuesday, October 18 at The Black Bull, Wooler, and further information on the proposed new woodland can be found at the website www.doddingtonnorth.org