A draft forest strategy has been unveiled for the north-east of England, outlining how woods and trees can make the region a better place to live and work.

The Government Office for the North East and the Forestry Commission said the “green road map”, which is now open to consultation, will be used to allocate future resources and co-ordinate existing and new initiatives.

Key strategy targets include: creating at least 200ha of woods on brownfield sites in the next four years; fostering collaboration between timber-related businesses and expanding wood processing capacity; planting 500ha of new woodland each year; and expanding use of wood as a fuel resource by establishing 10 small-scale projects.

Jonathan Blackie, regional director at the Government Office for the North East, said: “This is a strategy that will make a real difference to people’s lives. It shows where trees and woods can make the greatest contribution and will direct our energies and those of our partners for years to come.”

The North East Forestry Action Group, comprising public and private sector representatives in the wider forestry industry, initiated the strategy process in 2002.