Chester and Ellesmere Port and Neston are among areas included in a new forest which is to have more than 50 million trees.
The new Northern Forest, led by the Woodland Trust and backed by almost £6m of funding from the Government, will run from Liverpool to Hull.
But it will stretch down through Cheshire to the Dee and Mersey estuaries including the existing Mersey Forest.
The forest will follow the busy M62 motorway and will include the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull apart from Chester as well as major towns across the north.
The Woodland Trust claims the 25 year project ‘will deliver major environmental, social and economic benefits that complement the significant growth, investment and new infrastructure that is planned for the north of England’.
It is claimed the forest ‘will both accelerate the creation of new woodland and support sustainable management of existing woods right across the area’.
Many more trees, woods and forests will deliver a better environment for all, it is argued, by improving air quality in towns and cities, mitigating flood risk in key catchments, supporting the rural economy though tourism, recreation and timber production, connecting people with nature and helping to deliver improvements to health and wellbeing through ‘welcoming and accessible local green spaces’.
It is pointed out woodland cover in the north of England is just 7.6%, below the UK average of 13% and ‘far below’ the EU average of 44%.
Tree planting rates are said to be ‘dramatically low’ with planting in 2016 being only 700 hectares against the Government’s target of 5,000 hectares a year.
Paul Nolan, director of the north Cheshire based Mersey Forest, said: “The Northern Forest will complement the planned £75bn of hard infrastructure investment across the M62 corridor.
“We have shown that we can lock up over 7m tonnes of carbon as well as potentially reduce flood risk for 190,000 homes.
“The Northern Forest can also help to deliver improved health and wellbeing through programmes such as the Natural Health Service.
“Community forests have a long track record of developing partnerships and, most importantly, working with local communities to create new woodlands and manage existing woods in and around our towns and cities.
“We welcome the Government support for the idea and we are looking forward to accelerating the work of the community forests across the Northern Forest.”
Austin Brady, director of conservation at the Woodlands Trust, said: “England is losing tree cover. We need to make sure we are protecting our most important habitats such as ancient woodland as well as investing in new major woodland creation schemes.
“Existing approaches to increasing woodland cover are stalling and existing delivery mechanisms, such as community forests, are under threat.
“A new Northern Forest could accelerate the benefits of community forestry, support landscape scale working for nature, deliver a wide range of benefits, including helping to reduce flood risk and adapt some of the UK’s major towns and cities to projected climate change.”