What is the Northern Forest and its benefits?
The Northern Forest is set to bring a whole range of benefits to our environment, economy, industry, employment, health, wellbeing and biodiversity. You can read more in our ambitious vision here (PDF, 4.7MB).
Our environment has a dramatic and positive impact on our economy. Trees create attractive environments for business investment and development; they have a direct influence on property values; and they enhance the spaces and places that we want to visit, relocate to or work in.
If we want to see greater prosperity across the north of England, it has to be green. We need to plant trees and protect those we already have.
For the Northern Forest, wood represents the pivotal resource for the future. Trees can create beautiful buildings, be a source of renewable energy, and underpin many thousands of jobs.
In England alone, the forestry sector supports around 80,000 jobs and is worth £2 billion to the UK economy every year – from the fundamental job of growing trees to those who run sawmills and timber processing plants, the contractors who maintain, harvest and buy the timber, and the work of woodland owners and estate managers.
All in all, trees are an essential resource.
The Royal College of Physicians has estimated that air pollution causes around 40,000 premature deaths every year. In cities like Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull and Leeds, airborne pollution comes largely from traffic. This pollution affects you throughout your life but is particularly dangerous for unborn babies, toddlers, the elderly and people with long-term health conditions.
Trees can clean the air, cool the temperature, quieten the noise and lighten your mood. More trees mean better health.
Forests in the UK hold carbon in their biomass and soil. Our target of 50 million trees in the Northern Forest would establish 24,000 hectares of woodland with the potential to absorb up to 7.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050.
These trees could also help to keep our cities and towns cool and shaded, and play a real part in reducing the risk of floods.
All things considered, trees are fundamental to reducing the impacts of climate change.
Trees have an incredibly important role to play. From the tallest tree to the smallest organism, biodiversity encompasses the variety of plant and animal life on our planet. If we lose biodiversity, we lose food, water and fresh air. We need to conserve and enhance our natural environment, so it can deliver the essential ‘life support’ systems that we need.
That’s why the Northern Forest is so important. The ecological value of woodland is a given. The decisions we make today will have an impact for generations to come – it’s important we get it right.