Forestry England makes significant land purchase

Forestry England’s North District has bought a significant area of land in Northumberland for a new woodland. 

Last autumn the Government unveiled proposals to create the Great Northumberland Forest.  The first stage of this ambition to increase woodland cover in Northumberland is for three new public forests covering up to 500ha. Buying this land means Forestry England will create the second of these. 

In Forestry England’s North District, they are reinforcing their commitment to producing high-quality, sustainable timber, providing health & wellbeing havens for people and habitats for wildlife. There is a new urgency too; we need to create new woodland to help tackle climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Forestry England has started planting Rushy Knowe, a new 145ha woodland on land it already managed on the shore of Kielder Water. However, with limited suitable land for new woodlands, Forestry England needs to buy more. 

Monkridge, West Woodburn offered an unmissable opportunity. The 100 hectares are just eight miles from North District’s office in Northumberland. Forestry England completed the purchase on 10 April 2020. They bought the land once it had been screened by Forest Services (part of the Forestry Commission) under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations; the equivalent of “planning permission” for creating a new woodland. 

Forest Services (part of the Forestry Commission) worked closely with the previous owner and their agent to develop a plan for the new woodland so that it met all the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard and will provide benefits for nature, people and the economy. 

Phil Wilson, Woodland Creation Officer, Forest Services said:  

“The planning for this new forest was funded through our Woodland Creation Planning Grant.  We have all worked hard to develop a good plan for a productive and diverse forest that recognises the interesting features of the site and fits well in the landscape, taking account of the views of a range of interested parties.”

Jim Lee, Area Land Agent for Forestry England’s North England Forest District said:

“This is the first significant area of land we have bought to plant trees in over 20 years and marks a symbolic return, 100 years on, to our first purpose of woodland creation.”

Mark Child, Head of Integrated Planning and Environment for North District added: 

“We are reviewing the approved plans and preparing to make the plan a reality. The site has historical features as well as areas of priority habitat which we will maintain and enhance where possible.

“We are planning to start preparing the ground this autumn/winter (circumstances permitting). Like Rushy Knowe, we will be applying to the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Carbon Fund to support the establishment of the new woodland.”

Forestry England are thinking beyond the short-term and during this time, are continuing their work to ensure that they play an integral role for climate change, environmental and cultural heritage and the public’s health and wellbeing.

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