GREEN spaces across the borough could be about to blossom following a new agreement to protect and improve Bury's wooded areas.

On Friday, Bury Council and the Forestry Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding to consider bringing more green spaces under their joint management.

The two bodies have said the move will aim to safeguard green spaces by having "well managed natural resources and sustainable income streams", to maximise benefits to residents and wildlife, and support the economy.

Simon Hodgson, the chief executive of Forestry Commission England, said: “We are already actively managing a number of fantastic forests and open spaces within the Greater Manchester area, which makes this partnership with Bury Council an important opportunity to help expand the nation’s forests.

"It’s not only protecting a swathe of public accessible space, from Radcliffe centre through to Prestwich, it could also bring potential investment to improve those sites involved."

Partners since 2011, the Forestry Commission, which is responsible for managing the UK's woods and forests, already manages 73 hectares woodland at Waterdale Meadow and Drinkwater Park, in Prestwich, on behalf of Bury Council.

Work is now underway to see if the government body could also similarly manage land at Philips Park, Outwood, the Outwood Trail and Prestwich Clough.

Although the woodland would be jointly managed, it would continue to be owned by Bury Council and remain publicly accessible.

Councillor Alan Quinn, Bury Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “Trees and woodlands are integral to our environment. They provide bio diversity to wildlife, they absorb harmful carbon dioxide, help with flooding, shade us in summer and provide tranquil and beautiful places for us to enjoy.

“Our woodlands are facing the unprecedented threats of 19 tree pests and diseases: Ash Die Back alone could destroy 10% of our tree stock. There is also the added threat of climate change, and the extended dry spell is testament to this.

“We’ve worked successfully with the Forestry Commission since 2011, and we look forward to continuing this work, as the Forestry Commission have the expertise and resources to manage and protect this valuable resource for years to come.

“I can assure Bury residents that the woodlands would remain Bury's property and be open to residents as they are now; their management by the Forestry Commission would not change this."

The new agreement is also part of a wider programme to protect and expand woodland and green spaces across Bury including through a recent tree survey, the planting of street trees on Bury New Road, and the ambitious City Forest Park project.

Bringing together multiple partner organisations, the project aims to create a vast urban forest, comparable to New York's Central Park, covering 330 hectares of woods and green spaces in Bury, Bolton and Salford

Cllr Quinn said: “In the future I also wish to proceed to implement the City Forest Park with the Forestry Commission, City of Trees and Salford Council. This will be an urban forest 50% bigger than Heaton Park and is also part of Mayor Andy Burnham's green vision.”