A new coastal community forest will be created in Cumbria to help bring people closer to nature, Defra, England’s Community Forest and Cumbria County Council announced under plans to level up communities across the UK.

Up to 150 hectares (or around 210 football pitches) of trees, woodlands and forests will be planted, with the equivalent of one tree planted for every resident in Copeland, Barrow and Allerdale over the next five years. Ultimately, the aim is to create a minimum of 5,000 hectares of new woodland along a 56 mile stretch of the western coast of Cumbria over the next 25 years – that’s the size of almost 7,000 football pitches.

The project has received a £220,000 boost from Defra’s Nature for Climate Fund to kickstart planting in the next year. By growing trees where they are most needed, corridors of woodlands will be created along the west coast of Cumbria from Barrow to Carlisle which will better connect 65 miles of coastal communities to nature, helping people to enjoy the benefits of being out close to trees and woodlands.

The proposed area of Cumbria where the forest will be planted has high levels of economic and social deprivation and only 9.9% woodland cover – 3% below the national average, and so the new forest will contribute towards the UK government’s mission to level up across the country by improving living standards and wellbeing, increasing access to nature and providing job opportunities in new woodland creation through planting, establishing and managing trees in rural and urban settings.