Over 64 hectares of land within ten miles of Durham City will be used to plant thousands of new trees by 2023.
The aim of the programme is to make County Durham carbon neutral by 2050, in line with national policy. Furthermore, it aims to “conserve and restore the network of woodlands and strengthen resilience against diseases.”
The development has come through a partnership between Durham County Council, the Forestry Commission, the Woodland Trust, Northwoods and The Durham Woodland Revival project.
The project began last year, and is expected to conclude in 2023, by which time over a £1 million will have been invested. Funding comes from the council, as well as from other sources, such as the National Lottery, who contributed over £430,000.
County Durham has an average of 6% of forest cover, less than half the national average of 13%. However, this is partly explained because the area includes swathes of protected moorland which are designated as ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, including sections of the North Pennines.
Moorlands, or Peatlands, to use the technical term, are far better than trees for carbon storage. Globally, it is estimated that peatlands, which cover just 3% of the earth’s land surface, store over two times as much carbon as all standing forests, which take up over 30%.
Nevertheless, it is estimated that the trees would be able to store nearly 25,000 tonnes of carbon. For context, between 2018 and 2019, the County produced 56,139 tonnes of carbon, which was 11.5% less than the previous year.
The project builds on the council’s broader programme of planting trees, which has seen over 950,000 trees planted since 2009. Furthermore, a recent pledge committed the council to plant a tree per pupil within the county, meaning nearly 70,000 additional trees will be planted over the next few years.
Photograph: valePerzolla via Flickr and Creative Commons