Our Environment

Our natural environment works hard to capture our harmful emissions and turn them into the oxygen we breathe. We’re working hard to ensure our county is as green as possible to help us on our journey to net zero.

Free Tree Giveaway 2022 Applications now closed.

Our free tree applications are now closed. If you are interested in applying for the 2023 scheme, please email freetree@northumberland.gov.uk with your name and email address.

Frequently asked questions

What trees are on offer this year? 
There are two tree species available for small, medium and large sized gardens, as well as small planter-based shrubs available for those with limited garden space, balconies or rented properties. 
These include: 
  • Large garden: Wild cherry, English oak 
  • Medium garden: Silver birch, Rowan 
  • Small garden: Crab apple, Holly 
  • Limited garden space: Box, Wild privet 
Schools, community groups and town/parish councils can order hedge, copse or native harvest packs of up to 120 saplings. 

Which tree is right for me?
Have a look at our further guidance here.
Where can I collect my tree sapling from? 
We are running collection points across Northumberland during October and November 2022. These include: 
  • Alnwick 
  • Ashington 
  • Berwick 
  • Blyth 
  • Cramlington 
  • Druridge Bay 
  • Haltwhistle 
  • Hexham 
  • Morpeth 
  • Prudhoe 
  • Rothbury 
  • Wooler 
Confirmation of your collection details will be communicated once applications have closed. Please do not attend any collection points without this confirmation email. 
What will I get? 
The trees are small cell grown plants, approximately 30cm in length, sourced from the UK and will be provided with a biodegradable tree shelter guard, cane and planting and care instructions. 
When is the best time to plant my tree? 
Winter is the prime tree planting season. Saplings need to be planted when they are dormant, so they are less likely to get damaged. In the UK the best months to plant a tree are between October and March. 
Can I plant a tree if I rent my property? 
We advise that anyone planning on planting a tree in the ground do so on their own property or seek permission from the landowner. However, we understand that this might not be possible for everyone, and that’s why we’ve selected two species of tree specifically for those who rent or have limited garden space. These are under the ‘limited garden space’ section of the form and include box and wild privet species. 
What’s on offer for schools, community groups and town/parish councils? 
If you’re a school, community group or town/parish council you can apply for a free tree pack in sizes 10, 30, 60, 90 or 120. Choices of tree packs are: 
  • Hedge - Make a natural screen or connect existing woodland to help wildlife stay on the move. You will get a variety of each species for 8 metres of full, easy to manage hedging. Species include: Hornbeam, Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Hazel 
  • Copse - Plant a small group of trees as a wildlife haven, providing a valuable food and shelter source. Species include: Silver birch, Rowan, Wild Cherry, Hawthorn 
  • Native Harvest - Ideal as a food source for wildlife or you can harvest the fruit and nuts for your own projects such as jams, baking etc. Species include: Hazel, Crab Apple, Elder, Rowan 
 You will also be asked to give us some information about your tree plant. This doesn’t need to include exact dates, but we’d like to know roughly when and where and who will be joining you to plant your saplings, so we can map where the trees end up. 
We would also like to invite schools and community groups to take part in some case studies. If you’re interested, tick the box to say so and we’ll be in touch with exactly what that entails. 
How does this link in with The Queen’s Green Canopy campaign? 
The Queen’s Green Canopy is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the UK to ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’. We’re encouraging everyone across the county to get involved in planting a tree for the jubilee, and what better way to this than claiming a free tree! 
Why not send us photos and videos of your tree plant to freetree@northumberland.gov.uk and we’ll share them on our social media channels. Or you could take part in a local tree plant with a community group or your school. 
Watch this space to see what people in your area are doing for The Jubilee. 
How do I change my order? 
If you have accidentally ordered the wrong sized tree for your garden, we will try to change your order. However, we can’t guarantee we will be able to accommodate everyone. Please email us at freetree@northumberland.gov.uk and we will try our best to accommodate your needs. 
How do I change my collection date? 
Please get in touch if you want to change your collection location, date or time by email at freetree@northumberland.gov.uk and we will try our best to accommodate your needs. 
I can’t access any collection points; how can I get my tree? 
We have tried to select collection locations that are accessible to as many residents as possible, but we understand that due to the rural landscape of Northumberland, these might not be accessible for everyone. If you cannot easily travel to one of our collection locations, please get in touch with us at freetree@northumberland.gov.uk and we will try our best to accommodate to your needs. 

The Tree Warden Scheme is a scheme of volunteers who are helping to help enhance, look after and protect trees across Northumberland.

The Tree Warden scheme was officially launched by Northumberland County Council in Rothbury on Monday 4 April and was marked by the planting of 150 new tree saplings as well as the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to celebrate the occasion.

Tree Wardens are being recruited across the County under the scheme to work with the local authority and other organisations to care for trees and identify suitable land for local tree planting. Along with pruning, watering, rejuvenating and giving vital aftercare to trees and greenery in their local area, the wardens will be working with schools to educate children about the importance and value that trees have to our environment. Please read the Tree Warden Volunteer role description for more information.

Trees are vital in fighting the effects of climate change as they capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, prevent flooding, reduce pollution and keep soil rich in nutrients. This links in with the NCC Climate Change Action plan under Priorty Action Area 6: Natural Resource based Carbon Sequestration.

Councillor Glen Sanderson at a plaque for tree wardens surrounded by a group of wardens and trees.

A message from Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council:
"We are delighted to be able to launch the county's Tree Warden scheme in this beautiful part of Northumberland.
"Trees are a vital part of our eco-system and we must do all we can to help tackle the effects of climate change and continue our drive towards becoming a carbon neutral county. We're looking forward to this scheme being rolled out in many other areas.
Northumberland County Council is the official Tree Warden Network Coordinator for the county and is planning to have Tree Wardens across the whole of Northumberland. You can apply as an individual or as a representative of a group.

Applications closed on Monday 6 June. 
The Tree Warden scheme was officially launched by Northumberland County Council in Rothbury on Monday 4 April and was marked by the planting of 150 new tree saplings as well as the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to celebrate the occasion.   

The group Rothbury Climate and Nature all standing around a tree sapling innn a open field with shovels ready to plant some trees.

Rowan, Silver Birch, Crab Apple, Hawthorn and Cherry are some of the trees being planted on Council-owned land on the verge of the B6341 near the Beggars Rigg Car park. Katie Scott, coordinator of Rothbury Climate and Nature (CAN) group, said:
“We are delighted that Northumberland County Council, with The Tree Council, is creating volunteer tree warden groups across Northumberland. It is very gratifying that Rothbury Tree Wardens are acknowledged as the pioneering group for the scheme. We are soon launching our tree trail which highlights aspects of Rothbury’s history, as seen through the ‘eyes’ of some of our special trees.”  

Find out more about the Rothbury Tree Wardens here 
To celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, we’ve linked up with residents, schools, community groups, towns and parishes across Northumberland to plant tree saplings this winter.

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the UK to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.

To celebrate the Jubilee, we have linked up with residents, schools, community groups, towns and parishes across Northumberland to plant tree saplings this winter.

Trees help capture harmful emissions in our atmosphere and convert them into the oxygen that we breathe on a daily basis. Planting more trees will help the county become carbon neutral and create an environment that our residents can enjoy for generations to come.

We’ve selected just a handful of communities that are doing their bit for the planet by planting more trees to highlight the important work they are doing for Northumberland. Watch videos and find out more about the groups below.

A message from Council Leader Glen Sanderson:
Planting more trees is just one of the many ways we’re involving residents in helping achieve Northumberland’s target to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Our fantastic Free Tree Giveaway scheme aims to give every household in our county the opportunity to plant a tree over the next decade, with 15,000 tree saplings up for grabs each winter.

Tree planting is more important than ever following the destruction caused by Storm Arwen in November, leading to the loss of thousands of mature trees across the region. If you aren’t able to plant a tree this winter, please consider taking us up on the Free Tree Giveaway next winter to help us replace the trees we have tragically lost.

Find out more about our Queen's Green Canopy case studies below.
More to come so watch this space!
Ovington Tree Planting group holding planting tools and tree saplings
The Northumbrian village of Ovington in the Tyne Valley are on a tree-planting mission.

Many of the 527 free-standing trees in the village have ash dieback, a disease that will eventually kill the trees. Determined to do something about it, residents in Ovington formed a tree planting group in early 2020.

This winter the group are replacing trees that are likely to die by claiming 90 copse saplings from Northumberland County Council’s Free Tree Giveaway. Concentrating on field boundaries, the group introduced silver birch, rowan, wild cherry and hawthorn species, starting new hedgerows. The group plan to continue tree planting on an annual basis with agreement of landowners.

Anne Hudson, who is an Ovington Parish Councillor, organised the tree planting event, and is passionate about tackling climate change.

Anne: The Queen's Green Canopy has been a campaign of Her Majesty for decades. What we're doing in the UK really is a celebration of her life and the work she's been doing so I think it's a fabulous initiative that all councils throughout the country are looking at. We've known for some time about climate change, and the UK hosted COP26, so we have to practise what we preach, and this is a very public demonstrable way of showing that not only does each parish care but the whole county cares.

Anne’s sentiment is shared by Peter Pescod, fellow tree planter and former chair of Ovington Parish Council.

Peter: Many of us in the third stage of our lives will directly escape the worst consequences of climate change, but if our children and grandchildren and those that follow are to have any sort of future, we need to start redressing some of the problems that we have been creating. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step as Laozi Tzu once said and we all need to work away to do what we can.

There was a great turnout at the latest tree planting event, with families, residents and regular volunteers getting stuck in together. Holly Waddell, ward councillor for Bywell, noticed the positive atmosphere.

Holly: It's part of the council's policy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. I think these kind of things are really important because it empowers individuals in communities to take ownership of tackling the climate emergency we’re facing. I'm hoping that these kind of activities are going to really tackle that we're going to get it under control within the next few years because I want to be able to pass this planet on to my children and my grandchildren and at the moment we're facing potential for that not to happen.

When it comes to what individuals can do to tackle climate change, the group had a few words of advice to give.

Peter: We want young people and families who have a future before them, to see that we are actually improving our environment rather than letting it go the other way. I think all of us involved in it would like to leave the place better than when we found it.

Holly: Ovington's a really small village and the fact that so many people are taking positive action just shows that no one is too small to make a change in the world and that you might only have a small group to work with, but you can do big things.

Anne: Even if you have no backyard to plant a tree you could volunteer to be part of somebody's group to do tree planting. Our whole planet is changing and deteriorating at a very rapid rate and could threaten the human race, and this is a massive, massive task. So, what we do as individuals might seem a pin prick but if a thousand and then a million and then a trillion pin pricks are put together it starts to make a difference and that's what we're doing here.

Watch the full video:


Schoolchildren Cleb, Bailey, Rory, Lucas, Jake, George, Logan, Ella, Lucie and Josie with local police officers and Cllr Catherine Seymour.

Park volunteers, Girl Guides and Brownies have worked together to plant almost 10,000 spring bulbs, with schoolchildren from Berwick’s Holy Trinity First School planting apple and pear trees in Flagstaff Park as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign.

Councillor Catherine Seymour, ward councillor for Berwick North, helped organise the plant in November.

Cllr Seymour: We started celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee early so that Flagstaff Park can bloom all year. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the community to be involved in our planting scheme.

We got the idea from the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign which encourages everyone to plant a tree for the Jubilee this year. The Royal Horticultural Society judges for Northumberland in Bloom have supported us in this venture and once the flowers begin to bloom, they will be a fantastic attraction to the town. It was important that I was able to allocate around £2,000 of funding to the planting scheme from my capital schemes allowance.

Headteacher of Holy Trinity First school, Nicholas Shaw, is always on the lookout for opportunities for his schoolchildren to get involved in helping the local community.

Nicholas: Our mini-police and indeed our whole school are passionate about helping the environment. The tree planting in Flagstaff Park was a fantastic project that brought both of these elements together and we look forward to watching the trees grow, creating a beautiful, healthier and greener place for us all to enjoy.

Children at Spring Nursery planting trees with nursery staff Janine and Abbie
Spring Nursery in Longhoughton have jumped at the opportunity to spruce up their sensory garden this winter.

Trees play a huge part in children’s play and learning at this seaside nursery near Alnwick, Northumberland. The kids learn about nature through collecting leaves, doing bark rubbings and learning at forest school. Eager to build on this, the nursery claimed 30 tree saplings from Northumberland County Council’s Free Tree Giveaway this winter, using them to enhance the on-site sensory garden with a variety of species, including rowan, crab apple, elder and hazel.

The nursery manager, Janine Bainbridge, heard about the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign from her mam, who has already applied for her own free tree from the Council.

Janine: I read up about how Northumberland County Council are giving out free trees and I thought it would be a really good idea to get involved. We were lucky enough to get 30 saplings and we planted them in our sensory garden area. We've got rowan trees, crab apple trees, elder trees and hazel trees, so we've got a good variety of them. I'm hoping it'll teach the children about looking after the environment and climate change, and the importance of trees.

Abbie Balmbra, who works at the nursery and planted the trees with the children, loved seeing how much they got out of it.

Abbie: The kids have absolutely enjoyed planting all the different trees and they've actually learned something. It'll be nice for them to come back and see what they're growing into in the future.

Councillor Wendy Pattinson, ward councillor for Longhoughton, showed her support for the initiative too.

Wendy: There'll never be a better age to encourage children to look at climate change. It's so important to us all and I think children are the future.

Tree planting isn’t all the kids get up to at Spring Nursery – they also nurture their care for the environment with the nursery recycling bin.

Abbie: Anything that the children bring in like off their packed lunch we'll say "Oh should this go to the recycle bin or should this go in the general waste bin?" I think the impact will be a big help to the wider community as well for them to actually think oh if the little children are doing it, we should be doing it as well.

As well as a fun day for the kids, Janine hopes that the tree planting will raise awareness of climate issues and encourage the community to get on board too.

Janine: Whatever we're doing now will help with the future of the children and their children and their children. They will also go home and talk to their parents and grandparents about it, so although they're only young they're teaching the older generation as well. I think it's really good for everyone to get involved especially when you're in a small community like we are and for everyone to be on the same page looking after the environment. It just shows anybody can do it, it doesn't matter how small or how large, every little bit helps.

Watch the full video:

Aln Valley Railway Trust volunteers with their tree saplings
Aln Valley Railway Trust volunteers with their tree saplings

The Aln Valley Railway Trust are a volunteer-led community group based at Lionheart Enterprise Park in Alnwick. They are focused on restoring the railway line between Alnwick and Alnmouth to it’s 1950’s former glory. Featuring a replica footbridge, waiting room, signal boxes and locomotive steam trains based on North Eastern Railway structures, the railway offers a unique tourist destination for the area.

The group planted 120 tree saplings from the Council’s Free Tree Giveaway to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and help tackle climate change. 

Trustee of the Aln Valley Railway, Mark Hayton, explained what planting more trees means to the trust.

Mark: The Aln Valley Railway Trust are restoring the railway line between Alnwick and Alnmouth which closed in 1967. We’ve planted a series of bushes and shrubs for the Queen's Green Canopy at our new halt at Greenrigg Station, which is opening to the public this year. 

We use coal burning and diesel locomotives, so we want to offset our emissions in some way, and what better way to do so than to plant a tree line that can be seen from our trains for years to come. We’ll hopefully be able to continue planting more trees as we extend our line down towards Alnmouth.

The benefits of the trees are not just now but into the future. In 20, 30, even 40 years’ time when the trees and bushes become fully mature, that will help offset a lot of things that have been done in the past to cause climate change. My personal view is I think we should do a lot more of this.

Watch the full video: