Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time to Let Wood Work Its Magic

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time to Let Wood Work Its Magic

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson Environment Editor

Woodland will be put to work to help tackle the challenges of climate change, says a regional strategy out today.

Woodland can also help improve health and regenerate rural areas, says the strategy for trees and woodlands.

It is being launched by the Government Office for the North-East.

The document, which covers the next 20 years, says the region has 225,000 acres of woodland, mostly in Northumberland, representing 12pc of land area, compared to the national average of 8.4pc.

More than three quarters of it has been planted since 1930.

Initiatives to make more use of the resource include weekly Tai Chi sessions, due to start in May in Chopwell Woods.

Brendan Callaghan, of the Forestry Commission's North-East Conservancy, said: "A powerful alliance of organisations has come together to help realise the benefits trees can bring to the region.

"We are clear about our objectives and these are no empty words.

"Work to translate the vision into a grassroots reality has already begun and each year we will produce a summary to review progress."

The strategy's targets include:

* Boosting rural economies by supporting timber-using industries. Work is under way to assess the potential for creating clusters of timber-related businesses near existing facilities, such as the Egger plant in Hexham.

Such industries already contribute pounds 450m to the regional economy and the strategy says this could be expanded by nearly 20pc, increasing employment.

* Development of better tourism facilities, such as the pounds 170,000 investment in bike trails in Hamsterley Forest, County Durham.

* Ensuring trees feature in new developments, recognising their potential to enhance the built environment and making better use of planning powers to protect trees and woodlands in danger of being axed. …

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