The NF is set span over 120 miles, running along the M62 corridor between Liverpool and Hull.
Following backing from Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, over 50m trees are set to be planted, with the government providing almost £6m to launch the project. The proposed NF will help boost habitats for woodland birds and bats, while protecting a variety of species such as the red squirrel.
The forest will connect the five community forests in the north of England – the Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, South Yorkshire Community Forest, the Leeds White Rose Forest and the HEYwoods Project – creating green infrastructure and woodland around major northern towns and cities. The Woodland Trust and Community Forest Trust estimate the NF will generate over £2bn for the country’s economy.
The first planting is set to take place this March, at the Woodland Trust’s 680ha site at Smithills, Bolton, supported by Heritage Lottery funding. The Woodland Trust has already committed over £10m to this specific project, as well as several others over the wider forest area.
Austin Brady, director of conservation at the Woodland Trust commented: "Planting many more trees, woods and forests will deliver a better environment for all – locking up carbon on a large scale, boosting wildlife habitat and greening our towns and cities."
The announcement forms part of the government’s pending 25 Year Environment Plan, which will outline how the environment will be protected and improved, leaving it in a better state than it was inherited. Further details on the government’s strategy for improving the environment are to be set out over the coming week.