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Our Future Canopy

Our Future Canopy

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Publicado porSteve Connor
A manifesto published in the Northwest of England proposing a doubling of woodland cover to cut carbon emissions, create jobs and enhance our natural environment.
A manifesto published in the Northwest of England proposing a doubling of woodland cover to cut carbon emissions, create jobs and enhance our natural environment.

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Published by: Steve Connor on Aug 17, 2011
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Developed by the Northwest Forestry Forum partners from 2008 onwards, our manifesto has widespread regional support and encompasses the following aims:

TREES We will radically increase tree planting and double woodland cover. CITIES We will bring a cool green revolution to our towns and cities. CLIMATE climate change. WOOD We will produce more timber and use more timber. JOBS We will support green jobs and green skills. HAPPINESS We will help to create healthier and happier communities. BEAUTY

We will cut carbon and get ready for

We will transform our region’s image, from the field to the city.





Imagine, for a moment, asking a team of gifted engineers to invent a single device that could absorb and then lock up carbon, provide a carbon neutral building material or energy source, help stabilise vulnerable soils, provide a flood management system and offer a source of shade and cooling as the planet’s temperatures begin to rise. And then imagine asking them to make it a beautiful and inspiring object too, one that created a wildlife habitat and pollution filter, to boot, an object that made virtually every human being feel happier. Our forestry manifesto covers the Across England’s Northwest we have a singular opportunity: to place trees and woodland centre stage in our region’s future. We want to double our regional woodland cover by 2050 and in the process deliver a greener, lower carbon and more prosperous future to forthcoming generations. This bold ambition is the focus of our Forestry Manifesto and is borne out of a desire to tackle climate change head on, to improve our region’s image, provide a richer and more accessible natural environment and to create genuine opportunities for job creation and enterprise. whole of the Northwest region: Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. It fuses both urban and rural issues (an unhelpful schism in these convergent times) and unashamedly retains a regional focus, as so many of the issues it touches upon connect our cities, towns, communities and landscapes together.



At the time of writing, May 2011, this manifesto also has in its sights an ongoing review of forestry in England. In April 2011 the Independent Panel on Forestry, chaired by Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool was convened. Its purpose, to advise the Secretary of State Caroline Spelman on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England.

The panel will meet throughout the spring and summer of 2011 and will report interim findings in Autumn with a full set of findings due in Spring 2012. This version of our manifesto has been prepared to inform a Forum workshop which will prepare and submit evidence to the Independent Panel. The seven key sections of the manifesto usefully ‘map’ directly across to the questions that the Independent Panel is asking in its review:

How can woodland cover be increased, given competing pressures on land use for food production, energy and development? How can we enhance public benefits from all woodland and forests, including; public access for recreation and leisure; biodiversity, wildlife protection and ecological resilience, including through restoration of open habitats and plantations on ancient woodland sites; climate change mitigation and adaptation; economic development, particularly to support a sustainable timber industry and a wide range of small and medium sized enterprises, including social enterprises; and the engagement and participation of civil society.




Manifesto: We will radically increase tree planting and double our woodland cover. England’s Northwest has the opportunity and the capacity to radically increase its woodland cover: we have the ‘headroom’ for growth. This is in large part because we have significantly lower levels of woodland cover than both the national and European averages. The National Inventory of Woodland and Trees, published in 2002, is an imperfect measure of our regional ‘canopy’ particularly across urban areas or smaller pockets of woodland, but it is our best current measure of cover and shows us to have a genuine deficit when it comes to woodland areas. The Inventory shows that just 6.6% of our land area is woodland compared to an average for England of 8.4% and an impressive 31% across the European Union. In our more densely populated urban areas the woodland ‘deficit’ is even more pronounced, with Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside recording only 4% woodland by land area. Even allowing for the fact that the National Inventory needs urgently, updating, it is clear that we rank poorly in terms of cover. What impact does this low level of tree cover have? Firstly it means that we have less accessible woodland than we could have for the 7 million people who call our region home. The low level of cover also means we have less carbon ‘locked up’ in our landscape and we are less resilient to the future impacts of climate change. These low levels of tree cover also mean that the areas of forest or woodland that we do have are disconnected, as ‘island’ habitats that do not have the biodiversity benefits of more continuous areas of woodland. And we are inevitably producing less timber than we might, if we had higher levels of productive, mixed use woodland across the region. Woodland cover as % land area

EU 37%

UK 8.4% NW 6.6%



Of these areas of land the first and the last – environmentally constrained and lower quality rural land - offer the greatest scope for large increases in woodland cover (at least 29,000 and 37,000 hectares respectively) although the drive to adapt to climate change in our urban areas and reduce the urban heat island effect should mean that

2050 - 200,000 ha TODAY 96,000 ha

a large number of hectares of new woodland could be achieved in urban areas also. There are barriers to woodland

Woodland cover will have to increase to 200,000 hectares

creation, such as historical support for other types of land use, high land values and competition with other land use types such as food production, energy production, housing or healthland restoration, but there are possible solutions also, from new, innovative approaches to planting, woodland creation as part of planning or development permissions, reformed grant regimes or a greater focus on both carbon sequestration opportunities and the need to address a future, significant shortfall in our domestic timber supply.

We need to address this deficit and turn our forestry fortunes around. How, then, can we double our levels of woodland cover by 2050? The total land area of the Northwest is just over 1.4 million hectares. Of this, just 94,000 hectares is identified as woodland in the national Woodland Inventory – 6.6% of our land area.

To double our woodland cover would require us to plant an additional 2,350 hectares of woodland each year over the next 40 years, as well as ensuring that we do not lose any existing areas of woodland through land use change or lack of management. In recent Forum workshops, the available land for this increase in woodlands has been mapped across four generic landscape areas: land areas that are environmentally constrained; urban area outside environmental constraints; higher quality rural land outside environmental constraints; and lower quality rural land outside environmental constraints.




Manifesto: We will bring a cool green revolution to our towns and cities. Trees are an essential part of the modern urban mix and across England’s Northwest, particularly through the work of our community forests, there have already been significant gains in some areas; in St Helens for example, two million urban trees have been planted in the last ten years, boosting tree cover levels beyond the regional average. Urban trees deliver a range of benefits from increased property prices and reduced traffic noise to higher levels of health and mental wellbeing. Trees are particularly critical in terms of reducing the urban heat island effect and helping to reduce the risk of flooding. If Greater Manchester were to increase its tree cover by 10% for example, it would neutralise the socalled heat island effect, stabilising temperature levels at or below the 1961-1990 baseline average through evapotranspiration (as well as through providing shade). Conversely, a 10% decrease in urban greening can increase the maximum surface temperature by up to 7 degrees in high density residential areas. With the triple headline benefits of managing temperatures, surface water and air quality, urban trees are a vital part of our response to climate change. Large canopies offer the most significant benefits and it is important that the right species are selected, so as not to increase urban ozone or increase water stress. There are also perceived concerns around windthrow and subsidence which need to be overcome. Delivering ‘city cooling’ and climate change adaptation through increased levels of tree cover is a vital part of our new manifesto for forestry, but a critical starting point has to be a more comprehensive and up to date survey of current levels of urban tree cover and a mechanism for carefully monitoring those levels of cover, ensuring that any losses in cover are taken into account and that clearer guidelines are established to encourage increased levels of tree cover in town centres and high density residential areas. We need a cool green revolution across our towns and cities.




Manifesto: We will cut carbon and get ready for change. According to the UK’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, In 2007, forests in England removed about 2.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but this rate is declining, as forests planted in the 1950s to 1980s reach maturity. If England creates an additional 10,000 hectares of woodland per year for 15 years, those trees could remove up to 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2050. Here in England’s Northwest, doubling tree cover by 2050 could contribute dramatically to helping the region hit binding carbon reduction targets for that very same year. There are already around 95,000 hectares of woodland in the region, representing a carbon store of 6.5 million tonnes. What would happened if we doubled that cover? How much carbon would we secure? A sustained regime of woodland creation would offer a similar carbon gain over the years ahead, with differing levels of carbon reduction offered depending on whether the end-use of the woodland created were mixed use, timber production or energy. And the social cost of this removal Evidence recently supplied to the Read Report on UK Forestry and climate change shows that on average, for every hectare of new woodland created, the cumulative carbon removal by 2050 could amount to 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare. would be much less than other possible measures. Again according to the Read Report, an affordable cost per tonne of CO2 is considered to be anything below £100. Depending upon the type of woodland created, the cost per tonne of securing CO2 through woodland creation ranges from £75 for broadleaf farm woodland to a negative cost - i.e. a positive economic gain - of £50 per tonne for forests producing energy crops. At a rate of 2,350 hectares of woodland creation per year and based on the key climate change date of 2050, England’s Northwest could be securing over a million tonnes of carbon EVERY YEAR based upon a 2050 accumulation. Our cumulative woodland carbon store in tonnes CO2 to 2050 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050 3.9 million tonnes Enhanced creation Business as usual

16 million tonnes




Manifesto: We will produce more timber and use more timber. There are a series of powerful arguments for a radical increase in our woodland cover in England’s Northwest based around climate change, health and landscape quality, but perhaps one of the most powerful is that we have a singular and immediate opportunity to address a critical market failure: the virtual disappearance of supplies of domestic timber from England within a generation. We are planting softwood in particular at a much slower rate than previous decades - as little as in the 1940s - this will result in ‘peak wood’ during the 2020’s with a radical cut in timber availability just as the market for low carbon products will be reaching maturity. It is time to turn back to commercial, productive forestry in order to sustain our vibrant timber sector (England’s Northwest has a number of important, good-sized processing businesses) and to displace higher carbon materials in the market place. If the growing of trees has already locked up a large amount of carbon, imagine the ‘double win’ if the timber from those trees then enables higher carbon alternatives to be taken out of play. Replacing a single cubic metre of concrete or red brick with the same volume of timber can save around one tonne of carbon dioxide. The switch from materials with a high level of ‘embodied’ energy such as steel or concrete is just one way in which wood can help reduce the carbon footprint of our building stock, but wood is also a good insulator, too, whether used for frames, windows or cladding. If the 26,000 additional households forecast for the Northwest by 2026 were all built in this way, we could save over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, through timber frames alone. And we can do much better than we do today. Timber framed housing now represents just 20 per cent of new build and the projections for 2008 are that one in every four homes built will be timber framed, but we could do much, much more. Globally around 70 per cent of homes are built, often entirely, from wood and as close to home as Scotland, the market share for timber framed housing is a much healthier 73 per cent. Concrete uses five times as much energy to produce as wood; steel uses six times as much. If you expand this out to an average twostorey dwelling, using a timber frame alone could save four tonnes of carbon dioxide, roughly equivalent to driving 14,000 miles by car. Add to the product mix the other environmental benefits of wood: it is organic, enhances biodiversity, can be easily recycled and avoids the need for quarrying and the extraction of aggregates, and you have an unbeatable case for timber as a truly sustainable construction material. Conifer planting levels in England 1976 - 2009
1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2003 2006 2009




Manifesto: We will support green jobs and green skills. These are the real ‘green collar’ jobs. Timber and forest related industries are worth £435 million in England’s Northwest and employ 69,000 people. They are increasingly knowledge-led, innovative businesses offering a sustainable, low-carbon suite of products and services. Timber processing and sawmilling alone employs 8,345 people in the region, with a wider wood panel, pulp and paper manufacturing base, that makes our region a primary processing hub for virgin material drawn from the forests of Scotland, Wales and Northern England. With 22 sawmills, and a strong tradition of family owned small to medium sized mills, the Northwest has a well developed regional skills base. The UK’s largest softwood sawmill is the BSW mill at Carlisle, built on a scale only usually seen in Scandinavia. The sawmill processes 320,000 cubic metres of timber each year, spends £15 million each year on logs and in total boasts a turnover of £32 million. It employs 140 people onsite and also has a healthy contractor and supplier base.

The nearby Iggesund in Workington has a £144 million turnover and employs 500 people making cartonboard products and A W Jenkinson in Penrith is a timber products and by-products merchant employing 350 people and boasting a turnover of £150

And the region also has an education and research capacity, with forestry education and training being provided at the University of Cumbria’s National School of Forestry and with experience in pulp and paper research at the University of Manchester.

69,000 people work in forestry and related industries in the Northwest million per year. As we double tree cover, lock up Beyond direct employment in the ‘wood-chain’ there are a host of regional businesses involved in tourism, leisure and recreational pursuits that are heavily reliant on the region’s woodlands. New woodlands, for example those created on neglected or derelict land sites through the Newlands programme, can have a direct impact on business investment levels, too. If we double our woodlands with a direct focus on their productivity, we will be able to generate thousands of new jobs and enterprises as a result. more carbon and boost our production and use of timber across the region, we want to make forestry and timber-related businesses in the region the direct and immediate beneficiaries of our ‘new deal’ on woodlands.




We will help to create healthier and happier communities. More trees mean a happier society. For a region of England with a troubling health record - physically and mentally - an increase in mixeduse, accessible areas of woodland will bring direct and immediate health benefits. The facts have been replayed across a host of expert journals and symposia. Just one case study from Chicago comparing people living in flats with, or without, a view of trees and grass found that a greener environment: reduced stress in children; increased concentration and self discipline; reduced symptoms of ADHD; increased the amount of play for local children; halved the incidence of violent crimes and domestic violence; increased strength of community and increased the ability of the poorest single parent mothers to cope with major life issues. With 22% of men and 23% of women in England obese, these opportunities for physical activity are critical. Trees make life more liveable. Woodlands are restorative environments, they can screen out noise from nearby traffic, they can absorb large numbers of people without seeming crowded and offer a range of activities from gentle to vigorous, including walking, cycling, horse-riding, nature trails, picnics and mountain biking. Trees make life more liveable. Of key importance is accessibility and it is here that we can work hard in England’s Northwest to ensure that every person in the region has the opportunity to enjoy woodlands. 28 million people in England live within 4km (a cycle ride) of a publicly accessible woodland, yet there are still barriers to people enjoying them, with people feeling that woodlands aren’t genuinely accessible or are too far away and a lack of knowledge about the facilities on offer or simple safety concerns can all play a part in people not taking advantage of them. As we increase our woodland cover, we must and will increase access, too.




We will transform our region’s image, from the field to the city. Your brand is what you’re known for. The positive (or negative) creation of place-based image, identity and reputation is entirely centred around the messages and film clips and photography that emerge from a given city, region or nation. As well as the permanently powerful and immutable word of mouth. You cannot shift image and reputation through marketing or the creation of straplines or logos: it is in the physicality of a place and in the experience of that place that a ‘brand’ is created. So why does this matter for woodlands and forestry? Because a radical programme of urban and rural greening across England’s Northwest will have a dramatic impact on regional image and reputation. Our regional marketing campaigns can capture and telegraph reality but only if an investment is made in creating a more beautiful and liveable region. The experience of ‘place’ underpins our global brand



And we have some ground to make up. Aside from a few regional ‘attack’ brands such as the Lake District or Cheshire, our region’s international image is post-industrial, grey and wholly set in an earlier landscape of mills and chimney stacks.

At Bold Moss in St Helens, the former Bold Colliery site, derelict industrial land has been transformed into a community woodland and nearly 600 new homes built.

There are a number of ways in which trees and woodlands can make a dramatic impact on image and reputation. Specifically: ‘The Airport Road’ experience for

The district valuer found property values in the surrounding area had

international visitors and investors, recognised by many international marketing experts as being as critical as hotel service standards or city cleanliness in ‘sealing’ a deal. Built environment and major development schemes. Increasingly enlightened developers are recognising that green space and a better public realm are critical in ensuring that major developments are successful and fully let. House prices and housing market renewal. As shown above, being

If a significant portion of our woodland creation effort is focused on transport gateways, residential areas and possible tourist areas we can start to turn that image around, permanently. The evidence for such a placebased transformation? The Return on Investment? A recent study by the District Valuer for the Northwest examined green ‘infrastructure’ and an increase in property values.

risen by £15m as a direct result, and new developments worth £75m had been attracted.

adjacent to woodland and having street trees as part of a development can and does enhance the attractiveness - and value - of properties. Stronger communities. If our aesthetic experience is enhanced we are more likely to feel a stronger bond of community, and a stronger identification with place and the others that we share it with. A beautiful region? This should be our final manifesto aim. The less whimsical bottom line however on regional brand is that more trees will mean more business, a sounder investment in major schemes, a more buoyant housing market and stronger, more cohesive communities.




A critical challenge for realising our manifesto aims: how do we make it happen? There are models to follow, barriers to breakdown, and successes which we should already celebrate.

Innovative investment models There are a number of existing or planned investment models across the Northwest which warrant further development and replication elsewhere. These include: • Woodland planting as a key aspect of PFI; • Working with large-scale developers to create an attractive setting for investment; • Practical business partnerships providing improved local area ‘image’, biomass resources or climate change adaptation; • Woodland or green infrastructure bonds, where investors can support woodland creation by investing in a bond that provides non-fiscal benefits in lieu of interest payments; • Developing a suite of woodland creation opportunities alongside community interest levies/section 106 arrangements; • Integrated land use planning to maintain and improve water quality; and • Landscape-scale, economicallylinked programmes to aid recovery and local economic resilience. Each of these investment models is either already in play across one of our counties or city regions, or is ready to be developed by one or more partners.

Breaking down barriers Local partners are ready to start delivering woodland creation, on the ground, if barriers to progress can be removed and it the right programme supports are in place. These barriers include: • ‘Hope value’ attached to underutilised land and the misplaced notion that new woodlands permanently remove large areas from possible future development; • More flexible, short to medium term land use deals and frameworks that will allow the notion of ‘temporary’ woodland to be pursued; • Clear signals on the future of carbon pricing and accounting in relation to woodland creation; • The lack of a mechanism for business to report on the carbon benefits of woodland creation programmes as part of their net greenhouse gas emissions; • The consideration of effective tax regimes to encourage investment in new planting in areas of need as a way for business to play are part in social programmes; and • The need to reform funding regimes - such as woodland grants - to make them easier to access and less bureaucratic.




The partners in the Northwest Forestry Forum are ready to begin work piloting a new wave of woodland creation using innovative funding and delivery models. And our track record for delivery is solid and impressive, with the Community Forests in the region having already planted 12 million trees and millions more having been planted through the Forestry Commission’s Capital Modernisation Fund and Newlands programme.

Real life example - Mersey Belt There is an immediate opportunity for an ‘Adapting the Landscape’ pilot across the ‘Atlantic Gateway’, the twin city region of Greater Manchester and Merseyside with the Northern areas of Cheshire. Such a pilot would be focused on woodland creation in and around key physical development sites and along transport corridors; on productive forestry including biomass; on leisure, recreation and the ‘visitor economy’. A green infrastructure fund is currently being developed to start delivering this work, led by Peel Holdings’ proposed 1% levy on development projects.

Real life example - Lancashire In Lancashire there is already an innovative model for woodland creation in the form of the county’s ‘Woodlands from Waste’ programme linked to a soon to be commissioned, 25 year, £2 billion Waste PFI. A partnership of Lancashire County Council, 13 Local Authorities and their commercial contractor, Global Renewables, alongside the Forestry Commission, will be planting and managing 100,000 new trees per year for the next 25 years - creating woodland on brown and greenfield sites across the area. The cost is being met through savings on landfill taxes and, in addition, is utilising a growing medium by-product of the waste treatment process.

St Helens


Warrington Birkenhead



Ellesmere Port

There are already woodland and GI plans for the Atlantic Gateway



Real life example - Cumbria and Lancashire Water company United Utilities has pioneered a programme called the Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP), working with farmers and land managers, local authorities, Government and other conservation organisations to influence how water catchment areas are managed and properly funded. The objective is a double win of improved water quality (under the European Water Framework Directive) as well as conservation of the natural environment. UU’s partner in the programme has been the RSPB.

Real life example - the Woodland Trust Right across the region, the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods programme is delivering new woodland areas working with landowners who have a hectare or more that they’d like to transform into woodland. A contribution from the landowner is encouraged, and if an application is approved, the landowner is visited by one of the Trust’s advisers to check that the land is suitable and then they offer help on picking suitable species and tree protection – as well as assistance with design. The Trust can even help organise the work using experienced contractors. In the Northwest there are around

The project has brought in public funding to help deliver an increase in clough woodland, with 450 hectares of upland oak woodland to be planted, some 300,000 trees being planted and 200km of fencing to allow for moorland restoration and woodland planting. It has carried out the work in two of its four estate areas: Bowland in Lancashire, and the Southern estate including Longdendale, the Goyt and parts of the Peak District. The programme has now been extended to Cumbria, also.

120 MOREwoods projects that are underway or gave been delivered, from a few hectares in the city regions up to a massive 75 hectares of new woodland in Lancashire. The Northwest Forestry Manifesto has been developed by over 800 organisations and individuals across the Northwest of England with a shared passion for woodlands, forestry and a more sustainable future. WHO MADE THIS?

CONTACT The Northwest Forestry Forum c/o The Mersey Forest Tel: 01925 816217 Email: mail@merseyforest.org.uk Web: http://www.iwood.org Written by Steve Connor



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