AN environmental initiative by a collection of Bolton businesses should prove to be a breath of fresh air - in more ways than one.

Supporters of the award-winning Bolton Family, a group of public and private sector organisations, got together last month to plant more than 8,000 trees to act as the borough's green lungs.

More than 800 people descended on the Smithills Estate, over a two-week period, to take part in the Woodland Trust's Big Climate Fightback.

Nationwide the eco-challenge should see more than one million trees installed, mostly by the hands of volunteers.

The Bolton Family, along with other local businesses, schools and community groups, worked with the Woodland Trust staff and volunteers to plant trees across 1,700 acres of land at Smithhills.

With the backing of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Woodland Trust has been planting trees on the Smithill Estate for nearly two years.

In March 2019, 26,000 trees were also planted, with the Bolton Family and Seddon among those volunteering to help.

Promoters of the scheme say that planting trees helps combat two major environmental emergencies facing our planet - climate change and biodiversity loss.

The creation of woods, hedges and green spaces buffers existing habitats, tackles climate change and reverses wildlife decline simultaneously, according to the trust.

The estate, which is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust, currently has around 10 per cent tree coverage.

But by planting a diverse range of over 20 different tree species, the trust hopes to increase tree coverage to over 20 per cent in the next three years.

Jonathan Seddon, Seddon's chief executive, said: "Each tree planted by volunteers from the Bolton community will help fight global warming and air pollution, reduce flood risks and create beautiful woodlands for local people and wildlife to enjoy.”

Tony Oakman, the borough council's CEO, added: "I am really pleased to take part in this exciting initiative. Trees are one of the best ways to tackle climate change and it is great to see communities, land owners and volunteers creating a new woodland in the wonderful countryside of Bolton.”

Noel Sharpe, deputy chief executive of Bolton at Home, part of the Bolton Family, said: "It's inspiring to see the incredible support shown by the Bolton community for this year's tree planting scheme.

"We were keen to join Bolton Family colleagues in volunteering our time to help protect the local environment. It's the actions and commitment of individuals that puts social responsibility into practice. Thanks to all involved."