Norfolk riverbanks to benefit from national tree planting project

Stiffkey river volunteers in Norfolk

New woodlands are to be planted along Norfolk riverbanks as part of the Woodlands for Water project - Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust

Norfolk's rivers are set to benefit from a new nationwide project to improve water quality and biodiversity.

The Woodlands for Water project will plant thousands of hectares of woodlands along England's rivers and watercourses as part of the government's efforts to treble tree planting and "build back greener".

Planting trees around riverbanks can help protect against flooding and can improve water quality by blocking the runoff of pollutants into rivers. The new woodlands will also boost biodiversity in the region by creating new "habitat corridors".

Stiffkey chalk river north Norfolk

The Stiffkey chalk stream will benefit from the project - Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust

Norfolk is one of six catchment areas in the country that will gain from the initiative.

Ed Bramham-Jones, operations director at Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: "We look forward to delivering this important initiative which will bring an array of benefits for rivers, riparian habitats and local communities across Norfolk and West Suffolk.

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"Working with our partners, the strategic tree planting will protect and enhance the quality of our rare chalk streams for increased climate resilience and the recovery of biodiversity by improving the connectivity of habitat along our river valleys, reducing the effects of diffuse pollution and providing natural flood management and the storage of carbon.”

Farmers and landowners will be able to apply for funding to create woodlands through the Forestry Commission’s England Woodland Creation Offer.

Upper Wensum in Norfolk

The river Wissey in the Cam and Ely Ouse river catchment. - Credit: Norfolk Rivers Trust

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Some of the projects that will benefit from the grants include the restoration of the Upper Glaven and Upper Bure chalk stream headwaters, the 20km river restoration of the Hun and Stiffkey and the Gaywood, Heacham, Lark and Wissey catchments. 

Forestry minister Lord Goldsmith said: “This is a hugely exciting and untapped area for woodland creation. The benefits of planting trees by rivers are vast - from helping biodiversity recover by creating more natural riverbanks, to slowing the flow of surface water to reduce the risk of flooding and improving water quality by buffering rivers from harmful agricultural pollution.

“The government is committed to trebling tree-planting rates by the end of this parliament, and in this vitally important year for tackling climate change with the Glasgow COP summit, this partnership marks an important next step in our plans to build back greener.”

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