New Community Forest created in the North East to support a greener future

Community forest will bring people in the North East closer to nature, contribute to the fight against climate change and help achieve tree-planting target

  • Up to 500 hectares of trees will be planted in the next four years and a plan to increase canopy cover in the North East to 30% by 2050 – almost double the national average – will be put in place
  • The initiative is supported by Defra’s Woodland Creation Partnership via the Nature for Climate Fund.

Photo – Sunderland City Council

Defra, England Community Forests and local councils across the North East area are today announcing the creation of a new Community Forest to bring people closer to nature in the North East.

The North East Community Forest sees six local authorities joining forces with environmental organisations to plant trees across the region.

The initiative aims to plant up to 500 hectares of trees by 2025, with a long-term goal to increase canopy cover across the north east to 30% by 2050 – almost double the current national average.

The North East Community Forest sees six local authorities joining forces with environmental organisations to plant trees across the region.

The partnership will work with people in the community, businesses and landowners with the aim of bringing forests and woodlands to those most in need across Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.

Thousands of trees will be planted in the first year – up to 25ha, or around 35 football pitches – thanks to £480,000 in funding from Defra’s Nature for Climate Fund.

Photo – Newcastle City Council

Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said:

“I am delighted to welcome the North East Community Forest to the expanding network of Community Forests across England. Supported by our £640 million Nature for Climate Fund, we will plant many thousands of trees and help rewild areas that are most in need.

“Our economies, livelihoods and well-being all rely on nature, and tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss are at the heart of this project.

“Spending time in nature – particularly around trees – is proven to boost our physical and mental health and wellbeing, so I am pleased this project will be accessible to communities in Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham.”

Councillor Clare Penny-Evans, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for climate change and public safety, said:

“We know that trees and woodlands are of incredible importance to the people of the North East.

“They help us create liveable and sustainable communities, contributing to our efforts to tackle climate change, supporting economic and social regeneration, and – particularly in a year when we’ve all spent more time at home – providing welcome opportunities for relaxation and leisure.

“Independently, the region’s councils have been working towards their own planting targets, with some great successes, but in coming together and becoming the North East Community Forest, we can supercharge those ambitions for the benefit of all.

“If trees are planted in the right place, we know that we can reduce the risk of flooding, create new habitat for wildlife, improve air quality, provide positive impacts on human health and wellbeing, boost the economy, provide new jobs, provide timber for sustainable building and energy production and store thousands of tonnes of carbon.

“And not only will this protect and enhance our existing tree stock, green our streets and create woodland in our cities, towns and villages, it will give some of our more deprived neighbourhoods access to nature and improve community wellbeing in many ways.”

Paul Nolan, Chair, England’s Community Forests said:

“Today, the North East Community Forest has joined our thriving partnership of Community Forest organisations from across the country, all of whom are working to transform the landscapes and communities in and around our towns and cities.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for the people of the North East as their new Community Forest sets out to create greener, more tree-filled and accessible spaces for all to enjoy, encourage biodiversity to thrive, support local economic growth and help the city region tackle climate change.

“We warmly welcome the North East Community Forest to our network and look forward to working side by side with all those involved.”

Anyone interested in potentially becoming involved with the project can find out more at or email to be kept up to date with information and opportunities as they become available.

About England’s Community Forests network

  • Nationally, this is the second new joiner to England’s Community Forests network this year. Under Defra’s England Trees Action Plan, this project is one of at least three new Community Forests to be created in areas most at need and is in line with the ambition to meet net zero emissions by 2050 – by 2025 England’s Community Forests will contribute over 6,700ha to woodland creation ambitions.  
  • The North East Community Forest Partnership involves Newcastle City Council, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, North Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Council, and Sunderland City Council.  
  • They are supported by Northumberland County Council, which runs the Great Northumberland Forest; the North of Tyne and North East combined authorities; the Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts, Forestry Commission England, Natural England, Environment Agency and National Trust; and the North East England Climate Coalition, North East England Nature Partnership and Groundwork.
  • To manage the new project a Forest Manager and Community Woodland Officer will be employed and, over the next 12 months, they will be tasked – with the support of the NECF partnership – with producing a Forest Plan, identifying where trees might be planted and consulting communities on their arboreal aspirations. This plan will then go out to full public consultation. 
  • The six authorities have committed £75,000 a year towards the costs of this new forest team, with match funding from the Trees for Climate Fund, and the team will then look to secure additional funding from other sources. 
  • England’s Community Forests are located in and around our largest towns and cities and they co-ordinate accessible woodland creation projects designed to deliver a wide range of public benefits and involve local people. Collectively, they form the country’s biggest environmental regeneration initiative and are highlighted as part of the government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment. For thirty years the Community Forests have delivered urban, economic and social regeneration, championing green infrastructure and creating high-quality environments for millions of people.  
  • The England’s Community Forests network includes: The Forest of Marston Vale; Great Western Community Forest; The Greenwood Community Forest; The Mersey Forest; Manchester City of Trees; Forest of Avon Trust; HEYwoods; Thames Chase Trust; White Rose Forest; the Forest of Mercia; Plymouth and South Devon Community Forest and most recently the new North East Community Forest. 
  • England’s Community Forests are supported by the national charity the Community Forest Trust (CFT). CFT is the national charity for the community forestry network and aims to secure more investment for community forestry, ensuring a green future for all. It is supporting England’s Community Forests in the delivery of the Trees for Climate programme.  
  • The Trees for Climate programme launched in December 2020, with the announcement of £12.1million of funding through the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund. In the first year of the programme, Trees for Climate has seen trees planted in Community Forests right across the country. When mature, these will eventually store over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, playing an important role in the meeting the government’s net zero emissions by 2050 target.  
  • Trees for Climate is delivered by England’s Community Forests and support by the Community Forest Trust and Cheshire West and Chester Council, who are the accountable body for the programme.

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