The Forest of Burnley

Help us plant trees!

There is a project to plant 35,000 trees to create 95 new micro-woodlands across Pennine Lancashire in the winter of 2021/22.


Prior to 1997 only 4% of Burnley was covered with trees, compared to an average of 13% in the UK and 23% in Europe. Much of the woodland that remained in Burnley was grazed by sheep and in decline

The Forest of Burnley project was set up and managed by Burnley Borough Council as a Millennium project and took inspiration from 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which enouraged us to ‘think global, act local’.

The aims of the Forest of Burnley were to:

  1. Plant 500 hectares (over 1,200 acres) of new woodland by planting 1 million trees and to double the woodland cover of the District
  2. Restore 200 hectares (500 acres) of existing woodland
  3. Plant an urban arboretum comprising 2,000 specimen trees
  4. Establish an arts and education programme to encourage people to appreciate trees and understand their importance in and around the town of Burnley over a five year period between 1997-2001


Burnley Council secured £3.6 million from the lottery funded Millennium Commission and Forestry Commission grants, together with additional funding from United Utilities and Lancashire County Council plus donations from local groups and individuals.


The Forest of Burnley restored 200 hectares of neglected woodland, planted 2,700 arboretum trees; created over 500 hectares of new woodland with 1.1 million new trees planted, with open land to accommodate paths, rides, wild flower areas and wetland. 32 kilometres of new path and bridleway have been created and many existing paths repaired.

Woodland and tree cover in the Borough was increased to 8.5%

Almost all of Burnleys primary school children planted a tree between 1997 and 2001 and overall, the project planted 11 trees for each resident of the borough.

Most of the 85 sites where planting or management took place are privately owned and after a 10-year establishment period, the management responsibility for the sites returned to the land owners.

The two largest areas of planting took place at Dunnockshaw (184 Ha) and Worsthorne (54 Ha) on land owned by United Utilities.

It is estimated that the 500 hectares of new woodland will sequester an average of 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year over the next 100 years, making a modest but never the less important contributuion to tackling climate change.

Forest of Burnley: The Future

The woodlands planted by FoB are now established, but require management and there are opportunites for more tree planting. If you would like to become more involved please contact Trees for Burnley, our local volunteer group or visit their Facebook page .