Case study area: the North East of England

The North East of England is the smallest English region, with roughly 4% of the UK’s population, land area and economic output. Formerly domi­nated by energy production, heavy industry and manufacturing, the region

Kowarik I, Korner S (eds) Wild Urban Woodlands.

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005, pp 131-142

has seen enormous change over the past 30 years, and is still dealing with the economic, social and structural consequences of its past – including a legacy of derelict and unused urban and peri-urban land.

The North East of England has two designated Community Forest areas, the Tees Forest (set in the valley of the River Tees) and the Great North Forest (covering the lower Tyne and Wear river valleys and north County Durham). Established in 1991 and 1990, respectively, they are highly re­garded as successful partnership organisations, involving a total of eleven out of the region’s twenty five local government authorities, as well as the national Countryside Agency and Forestry Commission.

The Great North Forest (www. greatnorthforest. org. uk) covers an area of 249 square kilometres, while The Tees Forest (www. teesforest. org. uk) en­compasses some 350 square kilometres. These recognised ‘brand’ names have now been brought together under one heading as North East Commu­nity Forests.

Achievements

The two Community Forests in North East England have undertaken a wide range of varied activities in urban and peri-urban areas, helping to create a more attractive and well-wooded environment with accessible and sustainably managed landscapes that enhance the health, well-being and quality of life of local people.

Between 1990 and 2003 the Great North Forest has achieved: more than 800 ha of woodlands planted; over 200 ha of derelict land reclaimed; over 450 hectares of wildlife habitats created or improved.

Between 1991 and 2003 The Tees Forest has achieved: more than 1060 ha of woodlands planted; 342 km of access routes created, upgraded or re­stored; 290 km of new hedgerows created for biodiversity and landscape improvement.

In addition to physical land-management projects, the two Community Forests have staged a wide range of community and cultural activities, in­cluding: art works in the environment; education and out-reach projects aimed at specific communities near to new woodland planting sites; guided walks and health walks; green festivals; events for particular parts of the community (e. g. ornithologists); a series of sporting and active recreation events.

Improvements to access (enhancement of rights of way, transport and information) are also an important part of their work.