New woodland the 'size of 49 football pitches' to be created

17 April 2024

The new woodland will bring people closer to nature, provide a safe haven for wildlife and help the region tackle climate change.

To launch the project, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, Michael Poole, joined the North East Community Forest, volunteers and partners to plant a silver birch tree on the land on April 17. Over the coming weeks, more trees will be planted by volunteers during sessions organised by Durham County Council and the sustainability education specialists Oases North East.

Volunteers and partners then rolled up their sleeves and spent the morning planting trees at the site.

Phillip and Susan Moiser, the owners of South Causey Farm, said: “It’s been our ambition for a long time to convert the land which has been farmed and used for grazing for many years back to its original biodiverse and eco-friendly roots.

“We’ve had a brilliant day and we are really proud that so many people are getting involved and supporting the project, which will bring a wealth of benefits to our community for years to come.”

Ross Weddle, Chair of the North East Community Forest, said: “We are absolutely committed to bringing more greenery and woodland to our region, so I am pleased we are supporting this exciting project.

“Woodlands and green spaces are the beating heart of so many of our communities. We look forward to working with volunteers and partners to plant these new trees so they can be enjoyed by people for years to come.”

Dr Rachel Penn, Outreach Adviser at the Woodland Trust, said: “Since the Woodland Trust was approached by the owners in April 2022 for advice on woodland creation, it has been a delight working with Susan and her family, to help bring their vision alive.

“The 35ha of new native woodland  at South Causey in the former Durham Coalfield will bring a host of environmental benefits, not only to the land itself, but also to the adjacent ancient woodlands.

“Woodland species, many of which are UK priority species for conservation, will be able to expand their range into the new woodlands, assisting in their protection and survival.

“We are extremely pleased to be working with the North East Community Forest team on project delivery, and particularly welcome their enthusiastic support which has enabled this significant project to be planted in record time.”

Charles Forman, Durham County Council’s programme manager for Durham Woodland Revival, said: “It is fantastic to see landowners and businesses working with the North East Community Forest to create new woodlands. We are now in the final stages of the Durham Woodland Revival programme, which set out to reconnect and restore woodland networks across County Durham, and the site at the South Causey Inn will contribute significantly to this. We are especially pleased we have been able to involve local children in the planting, with help from Oases.” 

The project is being delivered by the NECF in partnership with the Woodland Trust and RDI Associates.

Scottish Woodlands has been appointed as the forest agent who will be responsible for the tree planting and maintenance of the project.

The project was assessed and approved by the Forestry Commission to ensure the project met the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS ), which is the reference standard for sustainable forest management across the UK.

The project has been funded by the North East Community Forest Trees for Climate grant.

Trees for Climate is a Defra backed grant being delivered through England's Community Forests, tailored to the tree planting needs of communities and landowners across both urban and rural areas.

More information on the South Causey Inn.