A North East region has been selected as one of the locations to establish a community forest.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that Tees Valley has been chosen as one of the areas following a competitive selection process.
The project will build on the Tees Valley Mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority’s (TVCA) Trees for Tees programme – and has plans to plant one million trees.
A TVCA spokesperson said the project will increase green spaces in the area, and added they are aiming to deliver more trees to urban areas.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This announcement that Tees Valley will be a Community Forest is fantastic news for our area and will supercharge our Trees on Tees ambition to plant one million trees.
“We are passionate about improving the environment across Teesside, Hartlepool and Darlington by making our neighbourhoods cleaner and greener.
“We will now be getting spades into the ground to deliver on this project which will have multiple benefits for residents across our area.”
The project will cover Hartlepool, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough, and Redcar and Cleveland.
TVCA will be responsible for this project, which supports its Net Zero Strategy and Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan.
The new Community Forest will not be a single location but deliver additional tree planting in locations across all five Tees Valley boroughs.
Tees Valley and the other successful bidder, Heartwood Community Forest in Derbyshire, will join England’s Community Forest which is a network of 13 other Community Forests.
Forestry Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Trees on Tees Community Forest promises to be a tremendous community resource for the Tees Valley and the North East.
“Woodlands and trees are at the centre of so many communities – absolutely vital for our health and wellbeing, as well as providing crucial habitat for some of our most treasured wildlife.
“Our existing Community Forests play a really important role in contributing to our ambitions to increase tree planting across the country to meet net zero ambitions, as well as increasing biodiversity.
“I look forward to seeing Trees on Tees Community Forest take shape and become a woodland for generations to enjoy long into the future.”