Cheshire East Council has become a member of The Mersey Forest partnership, supporting the council to significantly increase tree planting.
The council has an ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025, and influencing the wider borough to reduce their emissions. By partnering with The Mersey Forest, the council will have access to funding and expertise that can help Cheshire East to deliver on both their carbon neutral ambitions and the objectives set out in their environment strategy.
The announcement of this partnership comes during National Tree Week, which takes place from 28 November to 6 December and is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year).
Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “It’s great news that we have joined The Mersey Forest Partnership. This joint working will enable us to create high quality woodland that offsets our emissions as well as providing a range of other benefits to the natural environment, including engaging with and supporting community development.
“We are committed to taking action to tackle the climate emergency, but appreciate that planting woodland to offset carbon emissions is only part of the solution to the challenge of climate change.
“We are progressing other activities to address the emergency. This includes delivering innovative projects such as introducing green hydrogen into our refuse collection fleet, electrifying our highways vehicles and installing renewable energy onto our council buildings.”
Councillor Quentin Abel, Cheshire East’s climate change champion, said: “This is really good news and a positive step forward for us all, particularly as we are working to increase the number of trees within our borough.
“Trees, bushes and hedges do more than capture carbon – they also help to prevent flooding by holding water back and releasing it slowly into our streams and rivers. Trees can, and do, reduce pollution, support wildlife and help to keep soil nutrient-rich. They are directly and indirectly responsible for better health, both physical and mental.
“Walking in open woodland and even touching the soil have real positive benefits –improving skin and gut flora. A little bit of dirt does you good, as the old saying went.”
Paul Nolan, director of The Mersey Forest, said: “We have been growing The Mersey Forest for more than 25 years and are delighted that Cheshire East Council has joined us.
“We are looking forward to helping them on their journey to becoming carbon neutral by 2025 and supporting new woodland planting in their borough.
“The forest isn't just about carbon capture though. We've shown how trees and woodlands boost our local economy, reduce flooding, create new habitats for wildlife, improve health and wellbeing and increase community spirit.
“If you have land on which you would like to plant trees, please get in touch with The Mersey Forest for a site appraisal to check that the land is suitable – it’s all about the ‘right tree, right place'.”
You can view Cheshire East’s carbon neutral action plan and environment strategy at cheshireeast.gov.uk/environment.