Work to plant thousands of new trees across green spaces in County Durham is set to be completed in the next few weeks.
Durham County Council will finish a significant tree planting programme as part of the Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge Fund.
Almost £500,000 was awarded to the council last year after the authority successfully applied for the grant.
Money from the fund goes towards planting trees in towns and cities to help improve wellbeing, connect people with the outdoors, absorb noise and play a crucial role in the fight against climate change.
Areas where tree cover is currently low have been identified for the planting of the trees. Once the programme of work is finished over 1,000 large trees and almost 20,000 smaller trees will have been planted across 70 locations.
Since the year 2000, Durham County Council has planted nearly one million trees on over 500 hectares of land, as well as planting or restoring nearly 200 miles of hedgerow.
There are also plans to establish 60 hectares of woodland in partnership with the Durham Woodland Revival programme and the Woodland Trust over the next couple of years.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to plant areas where tree cover is low and when complete, it will see 1,200 large trees and almost 20,000 smaller trees at 70 different locations throughout the county.
“The funding will be vital in improving the appearance of green spaces across County Durham, especially important at a time when people are depending on having these areas to get outdoors and exercise in during the current coronavirus pandemic.”
The planting builds on work the council has already carried out as part of its climate emergency.
The council has pledged to:
• Reduce carbon emissions from Durham County Council’s operations by 80 per cent from 2008/09 levels by 2030, making significant progress towards making Durham County Council and County Durham as a whole carbon neutral
• Investigate what further actions are necessary to make County Durham Carbon Neutral by 2050 and pledge to achieve this.
Steve Bhowmick, Durham County Council’s strategic manager, environment and design, said: “Our staff are excited to be able to complete the delivery of this programme and I’m sure that once completed all areas involved will look even better.
“As a council we are committed to improving nature in County Durham while also playing our part in the fight against climate change and the planting of these trees demonstrates that.”