TREES not only play a vital role in sustaining our countryside but they are also at the forefront of our plans to get to net zero by 2050.

They will help us halt the loss of biodiversity, create local green jobs, and bring people closer to nature.

That’s why as we mark the start of National Tree Week, I am pleased to be announcing the creation of a new coastal community forest here in Cumbria.

It will span an area up to 150 hectares – the equivalent of 210 football pitches and one tree planted for every resident in Copeland, Barrow and Allerdale.

Not only does this bring huge environmental benefits, but it will better connect 65 miles of coastal communities to nature and offer people here the chance to be closer to nature.

This is a huge part of our ambitious levelling-up agenda. Not only does better access to nature and the outdoors bring benefits for people’s wellbeing, but it will also help drive job creation through new forestry roles and boost biodiversity.

The Cumbria Community Forest project has received £220,000 from our Nature for Climate Fund.

Woodland cover in this part of the country is below the national average, so this marks a real turning point, where we will make sure to plant trees where they are most needed, with new corridors of woodlands created along the west coast of Cumbria from Barrow to Carlisle.

This new community forest is just one part of our wider plans to build back greener. Under our new strategy launched earlier this year for tree planting, we want to treble woodland creation rates by the end of this Parliament.

But we must do so in the right way, making sure that the right trees are planted in the right places, and in a way that will bring the biggest benefits to local communities, for example through opening up new job opportunities and putting the right support in place for farmers.

This new forest will be the third launched this year, after forests in Northumberland and Cornwall.

Collectively, community forests form the biggest environmental regeneration initiative in the country.

For decades, they have delivered urban, economic and social regeneration, championing green infrastructure and connecting millions of people to the outdoors.