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Ribble Rivers Trust launches 10-year campaign to plant half a million trees

Logo: Ribble Rivers Trust

Ribble Rivers Trust has launched a decade-long campaign to double the area of woodland across Lancashire to fight climate change, improve air quality and reduce flooding.

(Ribble River Trust)
(Ribble River Trust)

Working with private and public sector supporters together with community-based groups and conservation charities, the Rivers Trust is aiming to create 100 kilometres of new or restored woodland alongside the Rivers Ribble, Lune and Wyre together with their network of tributaries.

The Trust’s ambitious 10-year Lancashire Woodland Connect initiative will create an expanding network of connected woodlands for the benefit of communities across the entire county.

Lancashire is one of the least wooded areas in the UK and a huge programme of tree-planting is critical if the county is to meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases and slow climate change.

According to the National Forest Inventory, less than six per cent of Lancashire has tree cover – less than half the national average and one of the lowest of any counties in the UK. Increasing the proportion of woodland cover has been shown to contribute to reduced flood risk and soil loss and keeps rivers cooler and more oxygen-rich to benefit fish and wildlife.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) calculates that the UK as a whole needs to plant at least 100 square miles of new woodland EVERY YEAR. According to Forest Research, last year, the UK struggled to plant half this number of trees, with the overwhelming majority of those planted in Scotland.

Tree planting near Downham under the slopes of Pendle Hill (Ribble Rivers Trust)
Tree planting near Downham under the slopes of Pendle Hill (Ribble Rivers Trust)

The Lancashire Woodland Connect project will bring a host of direct benefits in terms of:

  • Flood relief
  • Improved air quality
  • Enhanced water quality
  • A county-wide network of ‘Wildlife Corridors’
  • Improved recreational access for health and wellbeing
  • Job creation
  • Outdoor education

The initiative aims to raise £500,000 per year of funding from public and private sector partners, grants, and the general public in order to raise £5 million. Progress has already been made towards this year’s target and this exciting initiative will continue to engage thousands of sponsors, volunteers, schools and community groups.

Coordinated and managed by the Ribble Rivers Trust, by 2030 the new waterside woodlands will extend across some 350 hectares of Lancashire – stretching from the Yorkshire Border to the coast beyond Preston.

The project will:

  • Plant more than half a million trees over the next decade
  • Create a minimum of 50 full and part time jobs
  • Involve more than 3,500 volunteers across the county
  • Extract more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
  • Add in excess of £100 million of value to Lancashire’s Natural Asset Base

And the wider benefits will extend across Lancashire in terms of cleaner air, better water quality, recreational opportunities, education, upskilling and job creation.

Checking progress on new planting with a local farmer in the Hodder Valley (Forestry Commission)
Checking progress on new planting with a local farmer in the Hodder Valley (Forestry Commission)

Ribble Rivers Trust Director Jack Spees said:

“There is huge appetite from communities across the Ribble catchment to do their bit to tackle climate change, increase biodiversity and contribute to natural flood risk management.

“Ribble Rivers Trust has planted more than 150,000 trees across Lancashire over the last five years through the delivery of multiple woodland creation projects. The Trust believes it has the skills, knowledge and experience to lead a concerted effort to achieve significant woodland creation at a catchment scale.”

Keith Ashcroft, Environment Agency Area Director for Cumbria and Lancashire

"Half a million new trees across these catchments will have an enormous impact on the quality, the health of the landscape – and how people interact with it. This ambitious scheme will improve the county's natural ability to slow water through the catchments, which in turn will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and improve the resilience to climate change."

For further information, please call Jack Spees on 01200 444452. You can find further details on the RRT website www.ribbletrust.org.uk, or Twitter @RibbleTrust.