Oldham Council has pledged to plant at least 1,000 trees at sites across the borough, creating 2.5 hectares of new woodland.

This year, the council is looking at creating 2.5 hectares of new woodland, from saplings, when planting season starts in October, as well as planting 1,000 trees across the borough.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth Manchester has welcomed the news, and called for tree cover to double in England by 2050.

Previously, the group has promoted research which showed Oldham had the second lowest proportion of tree canopy cover of any borough in Greater Manchester, ahead of only Rochdale.

Sign up to our newsletters to get the latest stories sent straight to your inbox.

Oldham Council is working with the City of Trees charity to document all the borough’s tree planting activity, and looking for sites where it can increase greenery.

Cllr Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council, said: “We have an ambition to be the greenest borough in Greater Manchester.

“Critics will say there isn’t a chance we can achieve that, but we are doing our bit.

“Everyone knows how important trees are to the environment but here in Oldham we can actually point out the positive impact they’ll have on future generations.

“A few months ago our teams planted trees around Elk Mill and Chadderton Way.

“It’s one of our schemes where we are trying to get trees between people and pollution to help improve the environment and residents’ health.

“When they are fully grown, the trees will help form a buffer between Clayton Playing Fields and one of the busiest roads in the borough. The trees provide all sorts of benefits, including helping to trap dirty waste particles from car exhausts and brake dust.”

According to the council, it has planted more than 2,000 standard trees in parks, cemeteries, highways verges and other open spaces since it declared a climate emergency in September 2019.

It says it has also planted nearly 15 hectares of new woodland, around 37,500 saplings, and committed to increase Oldham’s overall tree cover from 11.9 per cent (2017) to 15 per cent within a generation.

According to research by mapping experts Terra Sulis conducted on behalf of Friends of the Earth, 2,733 hectares of land may be suitable for new woodlands in Oldham.

Of this, 17.1 per cent could be delivered through rewilding schemes.

Follow The Oldham Times on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.

Oldham Council has said it wants landowners, schools, golf courses, farms and social landlords to join in and plant trees in order to improve the environment and prevent flooding.

Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth co-ordinator said: “Trees do an amazing job - they have a positive impact on people's mental health and wellbeing, help to enhance quality of life, improve air quality and help protect local communities from the climate breakdown that we’re already seeing across the UK; from heatwaves to flooding.

“Recent research for Friends of the Earth highlighted that Oldham's tree cover is the second lowest in Greater Manchester, ahead of only Rochdale.

“So the commitment from Arooj Shah that Oldham Council will create 2.5 hectares of new woodland and plant 1,000 trees across the borough and is aiming to become the greenest borough in Greater Manchester is great news.

“We urgently need all local councils in Greater Manchester and countrywide to plant more trees - faster.

“The Government needs to provide the resources for local councils to be able to double tree cover in England by 2050 to ensure that people, no matter where they live or what their income, can experience the mental and physical health benefits that trees bring.”