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Northern Forest Initiative

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 29 November 2018

3. What discussions the Commissioners have had with representatives of the northern forest initiative; and if she will make a statement. (907927)

The Church Commissioners own 3,500 acres of forestry in England, some of which falls within the focus of the northern forest initiative. The Church Commissioners have had some high-level conversations with the Woodland Trust and would certainly consider being part of this initiative.

With 50 million trees expected to be planted as part of the northern forest initiative to improve air quality and mitigate flooding, as well as to improve wellbeing and be there for us all to enjoy, it is really important that the Church of England estate also participates in that, not least as the 13th biggest landlord in our nation, owning land the size of Iceland, I believe. How many trees will the Church of England be planting, particularly around the area of York, where the archbishop’s palace, no less, was affected by the floods of 2015?

The Church Commissioners own a great deal of agricultural land. The important thing with the planting of trees is that it needs to be on land suitable for that purpose. Prime agricultural land is usually reserved for food production, but land that is, for example, wet—it can be in close proximity to rivers—is better suited to tree production. The hon. Lady, representing the city of York, has every interest in trees being planted that would slow the flow of the river through her city.