Rossendale Free Press

Thousands of trees to be planted in new woods

- ROBBIE MACDONALD freepressn­ @RossFreePr­ess

THOUSANDS of trees are to be planted at sites across Rossendale to create new woods, collective­ly described at the moment as ‘Rossendale Forest.’

The work comes as many ash trees in Rossendale and across the UK are being lost to a fungus which causes ‘dieback.’ But there is hope that practical work to plant young trees and the growth in natural immunity within trees will gradually counterbal­ance the loss over the next 50 years.

Peat bogs are also to be supported in the project, which is linked to addressing climate change, carbon emissions and creating new green spaces.

Schools, river and nature groups are joining the Rossendale Forest project with the borough council.

Some publicity has been

done to promote the scheme, borough councillor­s heard this week. But one councillor said more publicity was needed, to reach more people and boost involvemen­t in the activities, and also queried

the use of the word ‘forest’ in the project’s title.

Groups of volunteers are due to plant 1,200 trees near Loveclough, and the Spodden Valley is also due to be planted.

A report to Rossendale

Borough Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee stated the Ribble Rivers Trust and Northern Forest Connect are involved with the activities. Planting is due to start very soon, councillor­s on committee heard when Adam Allen, the borough council’s Head of Communitie­s, gave an update on the Rossendale Forest project.

But Conservati­ve Coun Granville Morris raised some concerns about the project’s name and levels of publicity to promote the scheme.

He said: “Are we selling this project right with the words ‘Rossendale Forest’?

“We are planting woods rather than a forest. A forest is a continuati­on, like Nottingham Forest. So I think we should be careful about mis-selling this project. It would be great to have a Rossendale Forest back again, as we had in history, but it does need care with the message.”

He said wider publicity was needed and suggested leaflets go to GPs’ surgeries, libraries and schools, for example.

Not everyone reads newspapers or has the internet, he said. The project appeared to be engaged with a limited number of organisati­ons but it needed to target a wider network, he suggested.

He added: “We have gone to the expense of putting up notice boards but there’s nothing on the notice boards. If we have got someone who is good at writing then can we get the message out?”

The forest project and outdoor activity could also be good for mental health issues, he also suggested. So there were multiple messages and benefits to highlight in any publicity.

Mr Allen accepted the project was for woods rather than a single large forest but said the Rossendale Forest name was used to promote it.

Conservati­ve Coun Karl Kempson said ash trees in Rossendale have been hit by a disease called ash dieback.

He had land with trees effected by the condition and suggested new trees could be planted there to replace the dead ones.

Ash dieback is a fungus which will kill about 80 per cent of ash trees in the UK, according to the Woodland Trust organisati­on. It will change the landscape and also impact on wildlife which depends on ash trees and woods.

It causes the death or wilting of leaves and hits ash trees of all ages.

Leaves develop dark patches in the summer and lesions develop on the bark.

The fungus apparently arrived in Europe about 30 years ago, The UK imported many ash tree saplings from Europe until a ban was imposed in 2012. Other types of ash trees in China and Asia are not effected because they have a natural defence. There is hope that UK ash trees will start to build a tolerance in future. Also replanting of trees and tighter import controls will help UK woods to recover.

 ?? Rossday ?? ●●Coun Karl Kempson (inset) and (main picture) Loveclough, where volunteers are due to plant 1,200 trees
Rossday ●●Coun Karl Kempson (inset) and (main picture) Loveclough, where volunteers are due to plant 1,200 trees

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