THOUSANDS of trees are set to be planted in County Durham as part of a £1m project to revive its woodland and help it become carbon neutral.

Plans have been made to plant more than 60 hectares of new woodland within 10 miles of Durham as part of efforts to tackle climate change, make the county carbon neutral by 2050 and try and make trees more resilient to the threat of disease.

The trees will be planted on land which has been transferred to the Woodland Trust and will have the potential to store almost 25,000 tonnes of carbon.

The four-year Woodland Revival Project will also see Durham County Council, which owns about 2,000 hectares of woodland, and the Woodland Trust working to improve existing trees.

Giles Brockman, who has a background in forest management and has just joined the project, said: "A lot of people own woodland but they don't know how to manage it or they don't have the cash to do it.

"Over the four years we're trying to engage people, build capacity and knowledge."

He added: "There’s a lot of hype about planting trees but people forget that they need to be looked after and they need to be well managed."

Tree planting can play an important role in tackling climate change because of its ability to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Woodland, especially ancient woodland, is also important for biodiversity and is considered to be one of the most important habitats in the county.

In County Durham, which has a relatively low percentage of woodland (six per cent, below the national average of 13 per cent), areas are often quite small and uneconomical to manage – which has resulted in much of the existing woodland becoming poor quality and at risk from diseases.

The project will include working with landowners to maintain woodland through thinning and planting, as well as looking at marketing and selling timber, which has so far earned about £60,000 for the council since the project started last year.

There will also be a programme of community events to encourage people to spend more time in woodland.

As part of a wider programme of planting, the council has pledged to plant a tree for each pupil –amounting to a total of 69,000 new trees in the coming years – and has just secured funding for an urban tree planting scheme, which aims to plant 1,200 trees in towns and villages in the county.

The Northern Echo will be looking at other projects in County Durham which are being proposed as a way of making it carbon neutral by 2050 in Saturday's paper.