The Black Country Urban Forest is a millennium project headed by the Black Country Environmental Partnership, which aims to plant or bring into sustainable management 900 ha of woodland in the Black Country by the year 2000. This includes the planting of street and garden trees, planting new woodland and managing existing woodland. Funding of 4.2 million pounds for this project was received from the Millennium Commission in 1995 and is match funded for each project by various agencies. This has led to many projects throughout the Borough in which the community can be involved and opportunities for more projects to be carried out.
The resulting Millennium Forest will encompass all of the Black Country, linking up with the Forest of Mercia Community Forest which includes the more rural parts of Walsall Borough and through to South Staffordshire and thus into the National Forest covering parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
This patchwork of hundreds of small woodlands and individual trees in streets, parks and gardens across the West Midlands, is the UK's most ambitious example of urban forestry. The Urban Forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife and is turning a major industrial area green. In a positive contribution to sustainable development, thousands of new trees were planted, hundreds of young woodlands are taking root and much-loved existing woodlands are being cared for, making a real contribution to the regeneration of the region's environment, to the economy and to the community.
The four voluntary sector principals in this project – National Urban Forestry Unit (NUFU), Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) and Groundwork Black Country. They went on to work closely with the four local authorities to propose the ambitious Millennium programme. Future developments in the Black Country, such as the proposed Black Country Urban Park, will take the project forward.
As well as tree planting and woodland management, woodland based businesses were supported, events and activities organised to engage local communities and studies of the area's biodiversity were carried out.
The Millennium Forest project was funded by the UK's Millennium Fund, matched by regeneration funding from the UK government and Europe, grants from the Forestry Commission and many other sources. The total cost was over £7 million.
The Black Country Environmental Partnership (BCEP)
The Black Country Environmental Partnership consists of the four major voluntary organisations listed below plus the four Black Country Local Authorities;