Durham’s woodlands have received a welcome cash boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
A project to manage woodlands and revitalise the forestry sector in County Durham has been awarded initial support and a £59,000 development grant in order to develop the ‘Durham Woodland Revival’ project, leading to a future £432,700 bid to the HLF.
The project will run from the beginning of 2019 to the end of 2023, by which time Durham County Council and the Woodland Trust will have invested almost £1m in woodlands and the forestry sector in the county.
Woodland cover in the county is low and often neglected and undermanaged. This has led to a decline in value for timber, wildlife and amenity.
The scheme will focus on the eastern area of County Durham where woodlands tend to be small in size and uneconomical to manage.
These are also the woodlands that are near towns and villages and enjoyed by local people.
Durham County Council has recognised that forestry is an underutilised resource and this scheme will provide training and support to landowners to manage their woodlands and look at new business opportunities.
There will also be opportunities for communities to help manage their local woods, and there may even be a supply of firewood to take home from some of the sites.
Councillor Ossie Johnson, portfolio holder for rural affairs, said: “Many of the woodlands in this area are ancient woodlands which have often taken hundreds if not thousands of years to develop, and are irreplaceable.
“This funding will provide a lifeline to woodland that is the backbone of our ecosystem.
“This woodland will be managed to improve its condition, enlarged with adjacent new planting and connections to nearby woodlands made using hedgerows to allow more opportunities for migration.”
The bid has been put together with a range of partners working with Durham County Council, including the Woodland Trust, Northwoods and the Forestry Commission.
Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this work will help provide a valuable, rewarding and sustainable resource for years to come.