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The UK is a leading nation in helping fight climate change. Over the years we have introduced tough new legislation and targets to ensure we are making good progress in helping make a cleaner, greener environment for all. To further add to our commitment to fighting climate change, there are plans in place to develop a Northern Forest, to run from Hull to Liverpool. Over a 25 year period around 50 million trees will be planted. This will be a positive contribution to the climate change battle.
Return of the Tree:
We lost tens of thousands of ancient woodlands in the 40 years after World War II. During these 40 years (approx 1945 to 1985) we lost more of these woodlands than in the previous 400 years. In the UK we only have around 13% woodland cover. The average in mainland Europe is around 37%. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This planned new forrest is designed to help the government meet it’s carbon emission target by 2050 – only 31 years away!
“More trees mean better health. Trees can clean the air, cool the temperature, quieten the noise and lighten your mood. Planting more trees means investing in our future health and cutting the future costs of health care too; it’s also a strategy that benefits the most vulnerable in society.”
Quote from The Northern Forrest Manifesto
The Main Benefits:
Apart from helping with climate change, the Northern Forest will increase the creation of new woodland, and also support sustainable management of current woods across the area. These trees will improve air quality, create many thousands of jobs, help mitigate flood risk in catchments, and support the rural economy though tourism, recreation and timber production.
In 2016 the UK planted just 700 hectares of trees. This is woefully off the governments target of 5,000 hectares per annum. The Northern Forrest will certainly help this figure. The sad fact is we are losing tree coverage in the UK. The Northern Forrest will lock up over 7 million tonnes of carbon, as well as potentially reducing flood risk for almost 200,000 homes.
Wood – A Sustainable heating source:
There is mention that carefully selected parts of the Northern Forrest will be used for those that want to burn wood. These will be clearly marked. Burning correctly seasoned wood, from sustainable woodlands is virtually carbon neutral. In fact correctly burning seasoned wood on a high efficiency stove, such as an Ecodesign stove, will produce less CO2 compared to allowing wood to rot on the forrest floor. Correctly managed woodlands will help provide this fire wood, usually fast growing trees produce the right amount of wood, which is quickly replenished.
Grow One Tonne of Firewood Every Five Years!
Don’t live close to the Northern Forrest but want to produce your own firewood? You don’t need acres of land. As little as 10 x 15m space (half the size of an allotment) would provide around one tonne of firewood every five years. This means a very healthy supply of firewood each year, around 200kg, which is more than enough for most households over the winter months. This is sustainable, environmentally friendly and free way to keep warm!
What Type of Wood?
You will typically need to plant fast growing, tough willows, which collectively are know as “super willows”. Willows are tough as they can grow in poor soil, in exposed place and even on rough ground, so you do not need to be overly concerned about having a perfectly fertile soil. Willow however, is not the best type of firewood, and it can be quite difficult to cut. However, if you can cope with these disadvantages you will be on your way to becoming heat self sufficient.
The Northern Forrest has certainly food for thought with regards to climate change and also sustainable wood burning. You can lean more about this development here.