Plans for a Derbyshire community “forest” which could see 300,000 trees planted over the next two years
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The planned Heartwood Community Forest cover and area totalling 750 square kilometres in which 77 per cent of Derbyshire’s total population lives.
It would stretch from Killamarsh, Dronfield and Clowne and then head south along the border with Nottinghamshire through Chesterfield, Bolsover, Shirebrook, Clay Cross, Alfreton, Ripley, Heanor, Ilkeston, Long Eaton and cover Derby, and over to Hilton and Willington.
The “forest” would bridge the gap between the Greenwood Community Forest in Nottinghamshire, the Peak District National Park, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and the National Forest in South Derbyshire, North West Leicestershire and East Staffordshire.
Derbyshire County Council reports detail the “forest” would be reliant on other organisations for funding, with £50,000 to come from the central Government’s Trees for Climate Fund to draw up a plan and a further £200,000 to get the project started.
The Heartwood Community Forest would be a “forest” in name only, with definitions of forests detailing the need for many more trees and of sufficient height to qualify for the term.
At 750 square kilometres, 18.5 million trees would need to be planted to meet the lower threshold of a forest, of around 100 trees per acre, and only when the saplings reach sufficient height – typically around 16 feet.
Much of the planned area of the “forest” is already developed and physically cannot be planted on, including significant parts of the county’s towns and Derby itself, while much of the land is in private ownership and not within the gift of the council or Government to plant on.
A county council report says the plan aims to “mitigate higher than average levels of deprivation and poverty being experienced by communities in Derby and the north-east of Derbyshire”.
It also looks to improve “lower than national average proximity to woodlands from towns and cities in the county”, to “revive” plans for a “nature-led” regeneration of the Trent Valley and enhance landscapes of low biodiversity value.
The council seeks to plant 300,000 trees on publicly accessible land by March 2025.
Meanwhile, the Conservative administration at County Hall had pledged in May 2021 to facilitate the planting of one million trees in Derbyshire by 2030.
As of today (November 20), this total stands at 389,790 trees.
A council report details: “Community forest will strive to maximise the combined merits of people, place and nature by uniting the policy, investment and actions being progressed by a diverse range of individuals and organisations.
“Such associations have the potential to be significantly enhanced in Derbyshire through improved collaboration, advocacy, enterprise and influence; creating new circumstances that generate a collective impetus that brings a step-change in shared beneficial outputs.
“The spirit of the community forest will be founded on the premise that everyone has a role to play in creating a living vision of a sustainable future that unites both peoples’ and the environment’s wellbeing.
“Trees and woodlands are the intergenerational hallmarks of such connections.
“Success regenerates landscapes after their industrial use, prevents contemporary social inequalities, celebrates a revival in biodiversity, and reaps the rewards of an inclusive net zero society.”