The value of timber-using industries to the north-east’s regional economy could be expanded by 20%, a new report has concluded.

The Regional Forest Strategy, the north-east’s first-ever blueprint for trees and woodlands, aims to boost timber-related businesses, which it says already contribute £450m to the regional economy.

The strategy, launched by the government office for the north-east, says work is already underway to assess the potential of clusters of timber-using enterprises near existing facilties, such as Egger‘s plant in Hexham.

Other targets of the blueprint, supported by the Forestry Commission, include creating 25,000 acres of woodland on brownfield and urban fringe sites during the next 20 years.

It also seeks greater use of trees in managing climate change by planting trees to reduce flooding, absorb carbon dioxide, reduce emissions through wood-fuelled power plants and greater use of timber in construction.

Public and business organisations have signed up to the strategy, which will co-ordinate activities and allocate future resources.