Manchester City Council has thrown its weight behind a campaign to encourage the Government to support the planting of a large forest in the North of England.
Council leader Richard Leese has signed – alongside 120 Northern leaders – an open letter to the Prime Minister asking for a commitment to the plan, which would see 50 million trees planted over the next 25 years by the Woodland Trust and their partners.
The forest will span 120 miles, connecting Manchester with Liverpool and Lancaster in the west and Sheffield, Leeds and Hull to the East, benefiting 13 million residents and generating £2.5bn in social, economic and environmental benefits.
It would also help tackle climate change by absorbing up to 7.5 million tonnes of carbon.
‘Manchester City Council declared a climate change emergency earlier this year and is working on a wide range of initiatives to enable the city to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038,’ said Sir Richard.
‘We are bringing forward an action plan which will explain how Manchester will achieve this ambitious target.
‘The Northern Forest initiative, which would help absorb millions of tonnes of carbon, is entirely complementary to that wider goal and something we wholeheartedly endorse.’
Mayor of Sheffield Dan Jarvis, who is co-ordinating the Northern Forest campaign, said: ‘It will be transformational for more than 13 million residents, improving their health and wellbeing.
‘It will help habitats thrive, a woodland culture to flourish as well as helping to tackle climate change, reduce the risk of flooding and create thousands of new jobs.’
Darren Moorcroft, CEO of Woodland Trust, said: ‘The Northern Forest represents the green lungs of the Northern Powerhouse.
‘This pioneering project spearheaded by Woodland Trust and the Community Forests will deliver millions of new trees planted, and billions of pounds worth of economic, social and environmental benefits to the region.
‘If we are to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises the world faces, internationally significant projects like the Northern Forest must be at the forefront of bold, ambitious domestic thinking.’