Cumbria Coastal Community Forest

In November 2021, Defra announced they had given the green light to the development of Cumbria's Coastal Community Forest - an ambitious and exciting new initiative that will see thousands of new trees planted down the western coast of Cumbria and help bring people closer to nature.

Up to 150 hectares (or around 210 football pitches) of trees, woodlands and forests will be planted, with the equivalent of one tree planted for every resident in Copeland, Barrow and Allerdale over the next five years.

Ultimately, the aim is to create a minimum of 5,000 hectares of new woodland along a 56 mile stretch of the western coast of Cumbria over the next 25 years - that's the size of almost 7,000 football pitches.

By growing trees where they are most needed, corridors of woodlands will be created along the west coast of Cumbria, from Barrow to Carlisle, which will better connect coastal communities to nature. This will help people to enjoy the benefits of being out close to trees and woodlands, enhance biodiversity and provide resilience to help reduce the effects of climate change, such as flooding and drought, on local communities through carbon capture, and nature-based solutions.

Unlike traditional forests, community forests aren't geographically restricted to one place. Instead, they are a spread out across a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.

They are bespoke forests for the specific areas - depending on the wants and needs of the communities and landowners.

The development of the Cumbria Community Forest bid has been led by Cumbria County Council, The National Trust and Cumbria Woodlands, in close partnership with other local councils including Barrow Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Allerdale Borough Council. It has also been supported by a range of other organisations including Art Gene, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Britain's Energy Coast.

England's Community Forests are located in and around our largest towns and cities. Collectively, the work of the Forests has formed the largest environmental regeneration initiative in England.

Cumbria's Coastal Community Forest has become one of now thirteen Forests in England and one of three announced this year.

Community Forests are not like normal forests in that they are one place and have lots of the same types of trees and are planted and then harvested for timber.

The Cumbria Coastal Community Forest will stretch across different parts of the western coast of the county. It will be a mix of community woodland, private woodland, on street trees, urban woodland, wooded habitat corridors and hedgerows.

But the key thing is that it will be coordinated so that we get a mix of species and ensure that we get the right types of tree in the right place.

For more information about Community Forests, visit English Community Forests.

It will benefit Cumbria both economically and environmentally as well as through the health and wellbeing of our communities.

The proposed area of Cumbria where the forest will be planted has high levels of economic and social deprivation and only 9.9% woodland cover - 3% below the national average - and so the new forest will contribute towards the Government's mission to level up across the country by improving living standards and wellbeing, increasing access to nature and providing green job opportunities in new woodland creation through planting, establishing and managing trees in rural and urban settings.

Environmentally, trees and woodlands are vital in tackling climate change. Planting trees will help to provide clean air, improve soil quality and provide resilience to help reduce the effects of climate change, such as flooding and drought. There will be opportunities for nature recovery, carbon storage, enhancing biodiversity and environmental resilience. 

Lastly, there is increasing evidence that connections with nature and other forms of life can have a significant beneficial impact on health and wellbeing. Through good access to a high-quality natural environment, we are able to connect local people with local nature without the need to travel, providing people of all ages and abilities with fresh air and spaces to breathe.

Our work is being supported by England's Community Forests who are delivering the Trees for Climate programme, part of Defra's Nature for Climate Fund. We are looking to plant up to 150 hectares over the next five years.

We are currently developing a Forest Plan and putting a project team in place.

Over the next few months, we will be consulting with residents and talking to landowners to see if they want to get involved.

We are calling for expressions of interest to get involved with this exciting initiative.

Cumbria Woodlands' Woodland Advisory Service can help to identify land suitable for woodland creation within the remit of the Cumbria Coastal Community Forest region.

This free service allows landowners to receive advice and site visits to assess the suitability of their land and how it can contribute to the Community Forest.

Visit Cumbria Woodlands' website for more information. 

Or get in touch by emailing: info@cumbriawoodlands.co.uk.