A SMALL part of West Craven could benefit from an ambitious £5 million project to plant more than half a million trees to reduce flooding, improve air quality and remove 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

The Ribble Rivers Trust has launched a decade-long campaign to double the area of woodland from the Yorkshire border and across Lancashire to fight climate change, improve air quality and reduce flooding.

Working with private and public sector supporters together with community-based groups and conservation charities, the trust is aiming to create 100 kilometres of new or restored woodland alongside the Rivers Ribble, Lune and Wyre together with their network of tributaries.

The trust’s Lancashire Woodland Connect project will create an expanding network of connected woodlands for the benefit of communities across the area.

Lancashire is one of the least wooded areas in the UK and the trust says a huge programme of tree-planting is critical if the county is to meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gases and slow climate change.

It says its woodland connect project will bring a host of direct benefits such as flood relief, improved air quality, enhanced water quality and a county-wide network of ‘wildlife corridors’. The trust says there will also be improved recreational access for health and wellbeing, job creation and outdoor education.

The initiative aims to raise £500,000 per year of funding from public and private sector partners, grants, and the general public in order to raise £5 million. The trust says it has already made progress towards this year’s target and it will continue to engage thousands of sponsors, volunteers, schools and community groups.

Coordinated and managed by the Ribble Rivers Trust, by 2030 the new waterside woodlands will extend across some 350 hectares of Lancashire – stretching from the Yorkshire Border to the coast beyond Preston.

It aims to create a minimum of 50 full and part time jobs, and involve more than 3,500 volunteers across the county.

Ribble Rivers Trust Director Jack Spees, director of the Ribble Rivers Trust, said: “There is huge appetite from communities across the Ribble catchment to do their bit to tackle climate change, increase biodiversity and contribute to natural flood risk management.

“Ribble Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council have undertaken a study to identify which communities’ health will benefit the most from community-led action to improve the environment – including woodland creation.”

“It’s clear that there are significant benefits to be achieved by expanding woodland cover and that this should be a priority for all, but it is equally clear that the scale of this project is beyond the capacity of a single organization and that a partnership is required to take this forward.

“Ribble Rivers Trust has planted more than 150,000 trees across Lancashire over the last five years through the delivery of multiple woodland creation projects.

“The Trust believes it has the skills, knowledge and experience to lead a concerted effort to achieve significant woodland creation at a catchment scale.”

To find out more, visit the website: ribbletrust.org.uk