Great Northumberland Forest

The Great Northumberland Forest is a plan to plant millions of trees, creating more wooded landscapes across the county.

Learn more about the Great Northumberland Forest's vision.

The Great Northumberland Forest is a plan to plant millions of trees, creating more wooded landscapes across the county by 2030.  This will help tackle the big challenges facing society, such as climate change, biodiversity decline, promoting health and wellbeing, and supporting a thriving local economy.

The idea is inspired by our determination to leave a better, more diverse, and more productive natural environment for the benefit of future generations.  By planting more trees, we will create new, natural environments that our children, communities, and businesses will benefit from for decades to come.

The new wooded areas will:
  • Provide beautiful new and enhanced landscapes
  • Absorb carbon and reduce climate change impacts, such as flooding
  • Help grow our agriculture, forestry and wood processing businesses, creating jobs and prosperity
  • Provide recreational areas to improve health and wellbeing, and offer new activities for visitors
  • Improve and expand habitats for plants and wildlife
  • Provide clean air and water
  • Lead a green recovery in Northumberland as we emerge from the Covid 19 crisis
A variety of different woodland types and sizes will be created to suit local needs, from the planting of individual trees, orchards, and small community woodlands, to larger-scale schemes bringing together farming, forestry, biodiversity, and recreation.  In some places there will be slow growing native woodlands providing habitats for treasured wildlife.  In others, faster growing, highly productive woodlands will rapidly absorb carbon and produce timber.

New trees will be planted in places across our diverse county, from our rural and farming heartlands, to our stunning coastal communities, on the fringes of our traditional industrial towns, to remote upland locations. Together they will be known as the Great Northumberland Forest.

For farmers and businesses, this will mean new opportunities to earn income from the land, diversifying into woodland management and outdoors-based tourism, or building sustainable forestry and wood processing businesses, creating jobs and wealth along the way.

For local people and communities, it will mean more opportunities to enjoy nature, live healthy lifestyles, appreciate our beautiful landscapes, and play our part in protecting the environment, fulfilling Northumberland’s commitment to become a ‘net zero carbon’ place by 2030.

In creating new woodland areas, we will take great care to safeguard our most precious open landscapes and wildlife habitats, including in our National Park and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), as well as preserving our best land for sustainable local food production.  We will work closely with farmers and land managers, encouraging them to plant trees for the benefit of their businesses and local communities.  People, communities, and land managers are at the heart of planning and leading the growth in tree planting across the county.

The Great Northumberland Forest will be a very visible expression of our unique identity and our passion for landscapes, nature, and the environment.  A legacy from our generation to the next - created for the benefit of all Northumbrians from all backgrounds and communities, strengthening the distinctive character of the county for many generations to come.

 

The Great Northumberland Forest Badge

A school child's winning picture has been designed into a badge for the Great Northumberland Forest.

The winning image turned into the great Northumberland forest badge. Three trees in the centre of a circle with a green background. The Northumberland flag pattern going around the outside as a ring. Great Northumberland Forest writing above the trees.

Learn more about the partnership approach behind the Great Northumberland Forest.

The Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership is made up of 14 organisations.  The partners include: DEFRA, Northumberland County Council, Forestry Commission, Natural England, the Woodland Trust, Northumberland National Park Authority, the Environment Agency, the Country Land and Business Association, Forestry England, the MOD, Confor, Northumberland CAN (Community Action Northumberland), the National Farmers' Union, and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. 

The logos of the Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership made up of 14 organisations


Mission
The Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership will empower and support our communities, landowners, and farmers to create and expand woodland areas across the county, enhancing and growing our natural capital through integrated land use management.

Strategic Objectives 
 
  • To make possible an increase in the and extent of appropriate tree planting schemes in Northumberland
  • To deliver a range of complementary benefits including sustained carbon capture, habitat creation and restoration, recreation, flood mitigation, water quality improvements, and economic growth
  • To provide the raw material to support a thriving timber supply and processing sector creating jobs and prosperity
  • To demonstrate to landowners and managers the value and opportunities presented by adopting integrated land use management and increasing natural capital
  • To share and apply best practice, working effectively with other relevant projects and programmes
  • To identify where changes to the current natural capital incentives and regulations would improve the pace and acceleration of appropriate tree planting
Approach
Our approach will be to promote the planting of ‘the right tree, in the right place’, balancing the needs of our natural assets and rural economy with the interests of people, communities, landowners and managers in local areas across the county.

In doing this, we will adopt a natural capital approach, accelerating tree-planting while complementing, enhancing, and protecting our natural assets including nature, ecology, woodland, forest, water, land, soil, and air.
 
Tree-planting will be locally-led, and will involve and engage communities, landowners, and land managers in local areas, working with agencies to make objective, balanced decisions on appropriate tree planting schemes.

Launch
The Great Northumberland Forest was officially launched in November 2019 at a tree planting event in Kirkharle.  Watch the short video to see and hear from the people there.  The winning school child from Corbridge Middle School was presented with a wooden medal of her badge design.  
Find out more about woodland or tree planting support and advice.

The Great Northumberland Forest team are available to support communities, landowners and their agents to develop tree planting and woodland creation projects across Northumberland.  

The team will be able to guide your project from an initial plan or idea, through to delivery on the ground.  Our aim is to help you to create a well-designed, suitably financed tree planting project.  

We aim to provide any additional free support you require by accessing the wide range of technical and professional expertise that exists across the Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership.  

The areas where we can support your project include: 
We can support a multi-disciplinary approach to designing new woodlands to achieve your objectives and maximise wider benefits to society, ensuring we are planting the right trees in the right places, with the right management, for the right reasons.
Part of a well-designed woodland is seeking the advice and approval of a range of statutory and local stakeholders. We can support this engagement process.
Depending on the scale and location of your project there may be some regulatory approvals that your project will require. We will work with you and the relevant authorities to gain any necessary permissions needed for your project to become a reality.
There is currently a range of funding options available to support tree and woodland planting across the region. We can work with you to match you with the funding options that best suit your requirements. We can also help you with any applications you need to submit.
If you need help in delivering your project on the ground, we can work with the wider Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership to source not only the trees and materials you need, but also the resources needed to plant the trees. This can include working with local community and volunteer groups.
More information about funding available for tree planting and woodland creation.

As well as direct support, we can also signpost further support and funding options to help landowners in making decisions about their land management future and what funding options are out there to deliver tree planting and woodland creation projects.  These include:
The Future Farming Resilience Fund is designed to provide business support to farmers and land managers during the early years of agricultural transition as we move away from Basic Payments.

A range of organisations have been awarded grants to help farmers and land managers understand the changes that are happening; identify how, what and when they may need to adapt their business models; and access tailored support to adapt.

The support will be available free of charge to any farmer or land manager who is currently receiving Direct Payments.
We have made an A5 flyer to take to farmer / landowner events and meetings.  You can download the colourful leaflet here (pdf).  It includes our contact information, enquiries.forest@northumberland.gov.uk
A leaflet has been produced, "How trees benefit your farm business" by the Forestry Commission and Catchment Sensitive Farming. (PDF, 2 pages, 3.16MB).  

This leaflet has been put together by the Catchment Sensitive Farming partnership and the Forestry Commission.  It provides suggestions on where trees can be planted on farms and information on the benefits of trees - from natural flood management to providing shade and shelter for livestock.  
You can download a new 40-page guide that helps you with:
  • what to think about before starting to design a woodland
  • what information to include in a woodland design and how to bring it together
  • how to apply the UK Forest Standard design principles to guide and strengthen your proposal
  • how to engage with other people in your project and making use of their responses to improve your plans
  • the maps you will need to include
  • how the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process works
  • and, where to find further information.  
Download the booklet from the gov.uk website
More information and links about current grants for tree planting and woodland creation.

Find out more about some of the main grants available for woodland creation and tree planting, using the expanding "plus" signs below.  
The Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) provides funding to prepare a Woodland Creation Design Plan which is in line with the UK Forestry Standard.

Landowners, land managers and public bodies can apply to the FC to support the planning of large-scale, multi-purpose, productive woodland creation.

Find out more about the Woodland Creation Planning Grant on the gov.uk website
The England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO) is the new grant from 2021 onwards.  

EWCO supports the creation of new woodland, including through natural colonisation, on areas as small as 1 hectare. There are four types of payments available:
  • support for the capital items and activities to establish new woodland, at 100% of standard costs
  • annual Maintenance Payments for ten years to help establish the young trees once the capital works are complete
  • contributions towards the actual cost of installing infrastructure to provide recreational access or to enable the current or future management of the woodland
  • optional Additional Contributions where the location of the woodland and its design will deliver public benefits. Land managers can apply for more than one additional contribution on the same land where it touches the right spatial layer and the design is compatible
Find out more about the England Woodland Creation Offer on the gov.uk website.  This will help you find out if you are eligible, how the grant works, how to apply, and extra income from selling carbon.  

There is a helpful A5 leaflet to introduce the EWCO grant that can be downloaded as a pdf on the gov.uk website.  This explains the financial support that could be accessed for planting on as little as one hectare (~2.5 acres) of land.  

Download the EWCO manual and many other guides and application forms on the gov.uk website.
Forestry England are offering to lease your land (or part of your land), to create and manage new woodland to support government plans for woodland creation, nature recovery and progress towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

It's a unique offer where Forestry England pay a rent and do all the woodland creation on your behalf. You can diversify your business income without needing to develop new expertise and put less time and money into an unfamiliar venture.

Find out more on the Forestry England website.
 
The Woodland Trust have a number of funds and grants for tree planting and woodland creation. 
  • MOREwoods - Where more than 500 trees are planted as woodland on at least half a hectare. Funding of up to 75% of costs is available
  • Trees for you Farm - Plant 500+ trees to improve productivity and the environment on your farm. Funding of up to 100% of costs is available for agroforestry schemes benefiting the business of productive farms
  • MOREhedges – Plant 100+ metres of new hedging allowing a large tree to grow every 6 metres. Funding of up to 75% of costs is available
  • Free tree packs for schools and communities 
Find out more on the Woodland Trust website.
There are various tree planting options covered by Countryside Stewardship, including Woodland Creation and Maintenance.

18 capital items are available, the main one is TE4 (Tree planting).  
Find out more introductory details, guidance and how to apply on the gov.uk website.

Other options include:
  • WD6 Creation of wood pasture
  • WD8 Creation of successional areas and scrub
  • TE2 Planting standard parkland tree or TE1 Planting standard hedgerow tree
  • BN11 Planting new hedges
  • WD3 Woodland edges on arable land
  • WD9 Livestock exclusion supplement - scrub and successional areas
Find out more about these specific grant items on the gov.uk website.
The Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) programme will pay for projects inside National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) boundaries. 

Projects should meet at least one of the outcomes in four themes: Climate, Nature, People and Place.

Activities that the programme might support include: 
  • Promoting connectivity between habitats
  • Action to reduce carbon emissions on a farm
Find out more about Farming in Protected Landscapes on the gov.uk website.
The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) is the voluntary carbon standard for woodland creation projects.  If you are a landowner and can demonstrate that you meet this standard, you can sell the carbon sequestered in your woodland in the form of Woodland Carbon Units through various markets including:

The Woodland Carbon Guarantee - find out more on the gov.uk website

Forest Carbon - find out more on forest carbon's website
Find out more about case studies of woodland creation and good practice by expanding the boxes below.

We are showing examples of good practice here and are on the look out for more case studies to share. 
A case study from Kirkharle. Woodland Officer Luke talks to John and Tom Anderson at Little Harle Estate about their most recent woodland creation scheme. They have planted over 12,000 trees along the River Wansbeck for wildlife and to prevent farm sediments and run off from entering the water.

Watch the You Tube video (2min 46sec).

Rushy Knowe is a 145 hectare new woodland in Kielder Forest. Forestry England saw the opportunity to use an area of upland hill grazing land and decided to take it back from agricultural use to create new forest. The aim was to create a modern, well-designed, and commercially sustainable area of multi-purpose forest, for the benefit of people, for nature and for the economy.
 

Watch the You Tube video about Rushy Knowe here (5 mins).

Farmers Paul and Nic Renison use mob grazing techniques to improve the productivity of their Cumbrian farm. They have been planting new trees and hedges across their farm to increase shelter for their flock and to reduce lamb loss.

Watch the video and read the transcript on the Woodland Trust's website.

Agroforestry can be equally relevant in lowland farming.  Farmer Stephen Briggs' agroforestry project is another case study from Cambridgeshire.  He grows apple trees and cereals side by side, and is producing more from the same area.  At the same time, he is managing the risk agains climate change as well as enhancing nature.  The scheme was developed in 2009.  Imagine standing amongst single rows of apple trees with a 24 metre alley between them for cereals.  The trees are planted north-south to minimise shading.  Pollen and nectar wildflowers are planted beneath them, providing havens for wildlife and attracting pollinators - vital for farming.  Stephen Briggs was initially motivated by wanting to protect his soils from being blown away.  

Watch the video about this silvoarable case study and read the transcript on the Woodland Trust's website (scroll down about a third of the page.

The Woodland Trust's woodland creation advisors have years of experience advising landowners on the benefits of trees. The Woodland Trust provide subsidised trees and independent advice and support to farmers interested in planting trees.

Find out more about agroforestry on the Woodland Trust's website.

Or five other agroforestry / wood pasture / silvopoultry / silvoarable / silvohorticulture case studies on the agricology website.  
 
Case study four is from the Kielderhead Wildwood project and how "wildness" is reflected in ecology, culture, history and the arts. Find out more about how the project is creating native upland pine woodland above Kielder Forest. Hear about the historically significant Scots Pine. Speakers include conservationists from Northumberland and Cumbria as well as academics from across the board. The Wildlwood is a National Lottery Heritage Funded project.

Watch the video on You Tube.  
 
Three upland farmers talk about the benefits of giving livestock access to trees and hedgerows, and why it is good for their animals, for soil health, for biodiversity and the farm's margins.  

Meet Andrew Barbour from Perthshire, Glansant Morgan from Pwllrhwyaid Farm in Wales and Freya Meredith from Dartmoor in Devon.  The 11minute 44second video also includes FWAG SW and the Soil Association.  

Watch the YouTube video here.
There are a range of other case studies to see on the gov.uk website from nearby Cumbria and North Yorkshire, to elsewhere in England - including one about the Woodland Carbon Guarantee.
Find out more about tree planting since the Great Northumberland Forest was announced in 2019.

The Great Northumberland Forest was announced in autumn 2019 and a launch event was held at Kirkharle in November 2021.  Watch a short YouTube video from the launch.  At the event school girl Elspeth from Corbridge Middle School was awarded a certificate and a medal for winning the competition to design a badge for the project.  

Since 2019, 716 hectares of woodland have been created plus over 150,000 individual trees or hedgerow trees in smaller schemes have been planted. This more than 1,338 football fields!  (1,769 acres).  

Download an illustrated summary of the data as well as a look to the future.

This includes tree planting that has been funded in the following ways:
  • Countryside Stewardship - about 333 hectares since 2019 - more about this below.
  • The Woodland Carbon Fund and the Woodland Carbon Code schemes
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust's Kielderhead Wildwood partnership project
  • Northumberland County Council's free tree scheme or grant schemes such as the Urban Tree Challenge Fund
  • Rivers Trusts with riparian planting, sometimes funded through private companies, others are funded through projects like the Revitalising Redesdale Landscape Partnership Scheme
  • Trees planted as part of planning applications and development (at least 3,180 trees)
  • Private landowners self-funding small-scale tree planting.  
Countryside Stewardship

Under Countryside Stewardship (this scheme has run since 2016 onwards) a range of planting types can be funded.  This includes hedgerow planting, standard trees in hedgerows or parkland, the creation of wood pasture and reductions in grazing to encourage natural regeneration.  Since 2019 there has been a total of:
  • nearly 72km of hedges
  • over 16,000 individual trees (standard hedgerow trees or parkland trees for example), and
  • nearly 333 hectares of woodland creation, including wood pasture, successional areas and scrub.  
Download an illustrated summary of the data as well as a look to the future.
There are some woodland creation or tree planting schemes in the pipeline, that will take place over the next few years. We think that over the next two years there are 2,800 hectares in the plannning. This includes:
  • Approximately 10 sites at an early stage of the Woodland Creation Planning Grant, which may total over 1,800 hectares
  • As part of the Woodland Carbon Fund, a 16.2 hectares site at Gibshiel Farm will be planted in winter 2021-22
  • The new England Woodland Creation Offer it is hoped with plant the next phase of Shiel Dyke Wood, about 100 hectares, as well as a number of other new site enquiries
  • There are plans for approximately 80 hectares of woodland creation coming forward in the Countryside Stewardship scheme
  • The Wildlife Trust will continue with the Wildwood project over the next two years, with around 30 hectares still to plant.  This is funded through the National Heritage Lottery Fund and is mostly planted by amazing volunteers
  • Northumberland County Council's free tree scheme starts again in autumn 2021 as well as the Local Authority Treescapes Fund and also a "Platinum Grove" to be created as part of the Queen's Green Canopy
  • Schemes in development by the Rivers Trusts, a possible total of a further 30 hectares
  • The Woodland Trust expect to distribute around 17,000 trees and hedge plants every year in the county, through the MOREWoods, MOREHedges and the Trees for your Farm or Trees for Schools and Communities scheme
  • The National Trust at Wallington was successful in a bid to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.  Wallington is going to plant 75,000 trees to create 12 hectares of new deciduous woodland, with the ambition to plant over 500,000 trees over the next decade.  (The whole National Trust aims to plant 20 million trees by 2030).  Wallington will also be planting 18,000 hedgerow trees, creating 7.3km of new hedge - to link habitats and species.  
Download an illustrated summary of the data as well as a look to the future.
How to contact the Great Northumberland Forest team.

If you would like to tell us you have planted trees, or are seeking advice or information please get in touch.  
enquiries.forest@northumberland.gov.uk
Frequently asked questions or FAQs to go with the Great Northumberland Forest pages

The Great Northumberland Forest is a plan to increase the tree cover across the county.  These are a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to help.  
The Great Northumberland Forest does not mean new, continuous, large planted areas. It means a generally more wooded or tree covered landscape across the county. Nearly 20% of Northumberland is a wood of some sort. This is quite good compared to the England average of 10%. But there is space within the landscapes to establish more trees for the benefit of people, for nature and for the economy.  

There are a few bigger wood planting schemes coming through. The first of these is Rushy Knowe near Kielder (145 hectares or 358 acres) where planting began in 2019.  The second of these is for a tree planting scheme at Monkridge near Elsdon. Planting will start here in winter 2021-2022 (100 hecatares or 247 acres). This land was bought by Forestry England in April 2020. Other sites are still in development.
The Great Northumberland Forest does not mean one big forest or new, continuous, large planted areas. It means a generally more wooded or tree covered landscape across the county. Nearly 20% of Northumberland is a wood of some sort. This is quite good compared to the England average of 10%. But there is space within the landscapes to establish more trees for the benefit of people, for nature and for the economy.  

Forest design has changed a lot since the time when big, single species plantations took place. There are a lot of habitat and species, soil and landscape issues to bear in mind when designing a new tree planting or tree establishement project.  
There is a section on these web pages just above called "Current Grants" which we will keep up to date. There are lots of different ways of funding tree establishment, depending on the type of trees and the scale in mind. We can help farmers and land managers navigate through the grants but we don't have a fund to apply to directly. 
The Northumberland Woodland Creation Partnership has been formed to bring about an increase in the speed and extent of tree establishment across Northumberland. It is made up of around 15 organisations coming together. 

The partners include: DEFRA, Northumberland County Council, Forestry Commission, Natural England, the Woodland Trust, Northumberland National Park Authority, the Environment Agency, the Country Land and Business Association, Forestry England, the MOD, Confor, Northumberland CANN (Climate Action Network Northumberland), the National Farmers' Union, and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust.  

The vision of the partnership is that a variety of different woodland types and woodland sizes can be created to suit local needs. This includes planting or encouraging natural regeneration of individual trees, orchards, agroforestry, and small community woodlands - to larger-scale schemes - that all bring together farming, forestry, biodiversity and recreation.  In some places there will be slow-growing native woodlands providing habitats for treasured wildlife. In other places there will be faster growing, productive woodland that will rapidly absorb carbon and produce timber.  

Our approach is guided by the principle of, "the right tree(s) in the right place, for the right reason, with the right management".  
DEFRA have also funded a Woodland Creation Partnership in Cornwall, called the Forest for Cornwall Programme (Koos rag Kernow). It was announced in March 2021.  

Neighbouring Northumberland is also the North East Community Forest. This covers the area of Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Sunderland and the more urban areas of County Durham. Community Forests are located in an around large urban areas - currently there are 11 other Community Forests as well as the North East one.  There is also a Cumbria Coastal Commnity Forest annouced in November 2021 stretching for 56 miles down the Cumbrian coast.  

We are working closely together with our colleagues at the North East Community Forest. Similar to Great Northumberland Forest, it is a partnership approach.  

Also in the region is the Northern Forest. This joins Liverpool to Hull including the areas in between! Partners include the Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, the White Rose Forest (in North and West Yorkshire), HEYWoods Iin the East Riding and Kingston upon Hull area) and the Woodland Trust. It was established in 2018.
No, we are not setting a target of areas to plant. Our mission is to empower and support our rural communities, landowners and farmers to create and to expand woodland areas across Northumberland.  

Also, there are no targeting or assumptions on the grades of agricultural land that are considered. All the fields and farms can still be valuable.  
There are important considerations in deciding where to site and how to shape new woodlands. These incude impacts on the local community, archaeological or heritage features, landscapes, and impacts on protected habitats or species.  

These are best considered on a site-biy-site basis to make sure that any scheme meets the UK Forestry Standard.  

Whether the land is owned or tenanted is also an important aspect to consider, but again this is something that can only be done on site.  

Woodland design has changed a lot since the monocultures of the past.  

The impact on nearby breeding waders, on peat soils and hydrology, on heritage features and on landscape are elements which particularly need a site by site approach.  
Since 2019, over 922 hectares (2,278 acres) of woodland has been agreed or created. Which is more than 1,722 football fields! 

Plus, over 333,000 individual trees in smaller schemes. This includes tree planting that has been funded in the following ways:
  • Countryside Stewardship, including hedges, standards, edges on arable land, wood pasture and tree planting for nature
  • The Woodland Carbon Fund and the Woodland Carbon Code schemes
  • Northumberland Wildlife Trust with the Kielderhead Wildwood project
  • The Woodland Trust's grant schemes (MOREWoods, MOREHedges, Trees for Schools & Communities and Trees for your Farm)
  • Northumberland County Council through initiatives like the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, the Local Authority Tree Fund and the Free Tree Scheme (15,000 free saplings for local residents and community groups)
  • The three Rivers Trusts in the county, where the focus is particularly on tree establishment to improve water quality
  • Trees planted as part of planning applications and development
  • Private landowners self-funding small-scale tree planting
No, our support and advice are free.  We want to work with communities, landowners and farmers to plant trees where they are needed the most.  We can provide free support and advice for the planning, funding and planting of tree projects of all sizes.  
Our contact details are above!  We would be happy to hear from you with either questions or thoughts or requests for more information. 

We have a special email address: enquiries.forest@northumberland.gov.uk