Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, Solihull’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning & Housing, outlined plans for the creation of a new forest in Solihull at the Full Council meeting held on 2 February 2021.
The new forest, called Arden Forest, would create a diverse and continuous green corridor through the Borough of Solihull and the Meriden Gap. It follows on from the Council’s Climate Change Prospectus and the ‘Planting Our Future’ campaign, which aims to see at least 250,000 trees planted in the borough over the next 10 years.
Cllr Mackiewicz said:
“Given the Government and West Midlands Combined Authority’s agenda on reforestation and enhancing natural capital, the time is right to set out a vision for a green and biodiverse future for Solihull’s green belt to benefit future generations.”
The full statement is below:
This Arden Forest vision is to create a diverse and continuous green corridor through the Borough of Solihull and the Meriden Gap. Not only to provide vital green connectivity, but also to help to deal with air pollution, carbon capture and habitat creation through rewilding. This project will provide a legacy for our children’s children.
Plans for this new Arden Forest follow on from the new Climate Change Prospectus and the ‘Planting Our Future’ campaign, which aims to see at least 250,000 trees planted in the borough over the next 10 years. The new Arden Forest will be part of this forward looking campaign
This is an important proposal that links with not only our own proposal for 250,000 trees to be planted this decade, but also the emerging proposals of the WMCA for extensive tree planting and forestry coverage to meet net zero by 2041. It also links with our message to government on planning reform that better protection needs to be lent to Solihull’s Green Belt, in the light of the legal obligations we face on an ongoing basis to provide land for housing needs, and for development to have better green infrastructure”
To achieve this vision the Council will work closely with residents and land owners to explore opportunities for tree planting and rewilding of land. The Council is calling on residents and private land owners within the borough to support them on this journey. We will work with partners and Government to facilitate this.
Apart from the desire to make Solihull a cleaner and greener place to live and work, Arden Forest is also a response to how everyone has embraced the natural world over the past 10 months. Nature has been a lifeline for many, if not all of us, during the pandemic.
Now more than ever as part of our recovery, both economic and social, I believe we must invest in nature. We now need the support of residents and land owners to make this vision a reality. But I know there is an appetite for green and accessible landscapes, as our award winning and hugely popular parks demonstrate. The New Arden Forest will build upon our long track record of delivering projects that promote a greener and more pleasant environment, like our highly successful Wildlife Ways programme, a £16.8 million project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
This statement of intent is further evidence of the Council’s ambitions for the borough, its people, its wildlife and for playing its part in tackling climate change.
In the first instance we will engage with Scrutiny and the Climate Change Commission.