A MAJOR scheme to plant 210 football pitches worth of trees and create a community forest in Cumbria has been promised a huge cash injection.

Cumbria's Coastal Community Forest - an ambitious initiative that will see thousands of new trees planted down the western coast of Cumbria-is set to share in a £44 million funding allocation from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Cumbria has been allocated almost £900,000.

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.

In the long run, 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 - the size of almost 7,000 football pitches.

Read more: Council to plant 210 football pitches' worth of trees

In November 2021, Defra announced they had given the green light to the development.

And the department has now announced the project will be one of 13 community forests to receive funding as part of the Government’s £750 million Nature for Climate Fund.

Across the UK, from Cornwall to Northumberland, around 2,300 hectares of trees – equivalent to around 3,220 football pitches – will be planted as part of this year’s £44.2 million funding allocation, playing an important role in the Government ambitions to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and reach net zero.

DEFRA said it is estimated that the planting announced today will see 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide absorbed by 2050- valued at nearly £100 million.

The department also said the funding will create more green jobs within the forestry and environmental sectors.

Lord Zac Goldsmith, Forestry Minister, said: “Our economies, livelihoods and wellbeing all rely on nature.

“As well as tackling the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, this significant funding will create diverse treescapes across the country and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities by giving them more opportunities to enjoy nature on their doorstep.”

Sir William Worsley, Forestry Commission chair, said: “The social, environmental and economic benefits of being in woodlands are well-documented, helping local communities to be happier, healthier and more pleasant places to live.

“It is a personal mission of mine to make sure as many people as possible get to experience these benefits. This funding will ensure we plant trees in areas close to where people live, as well as providing job opportunities in new woodland creation through planting, establishing and managing trees.”

Paul Nolan, chair of England’s Community Forests, said: “England’s Community Forests welcome the opportunity to establish even more new woodlands close to people to deliver all the benefits that we know they provide.

“Over the past two years, England’s Community Forests have worked closely with Defra, Forestry Commission, Natural England, over 70 local authorities and a huge range of landowners to establish more than 1000 hectares of new woodland. We are looking forward to continuing this joint endeavour and helping the country reach our net zero goal.”

The development of the Cumbria Community Forest bid was 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.