Yorkshire projects plant more than 32,000 trees and hedges to boost wildlife and reduce flood risk

More than 32,000 trees and hedges have been planted across North and West Yorkshire as part of four separate projects aiming to boost wildlife and reduce flood risk.

The four projects across West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire have seen thousands of trees planted to improve the environment and create new habitats.

Funded through a £300,000 grant from Defra’s £1.4m Woodlands for Water fund, which was adminstered by the Environment Agency, the new plantings will eventually create habitats for local wildlife, create links between existing woodlands, help tackle erosion of riverbanks and shade rivers for fish during hot weather.

But Malachy Grogan, from the Environment Agency said it had been a “challenging” completing the projects.

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“Difficult weather conditions over winter and restrictions due to Covid-19 made delivery of these projects challenging, but it is credit to all the partnership organisations involved that the projects have been successfully completed on time.”

“The hard work of all partners will make a significant difference to wildlife and people across Yorkshire.”

West Yorkshire based, Banks and Branches spread across eight sites around the Rivers Colne, Holme, Aire and Calder catchments.

Led by River Holme Connections working together with Treesponsibility and Aire Rivers Trust, it has improved 4.1km of river and 5.27 hectares of habitat.

Simon Hirst from River Holme Connections, said: “This work will benefit people and businesses by helping to reduce the severity of flooding downstream and help wildlife too by linking up woodlands and creating buffer strips along rivers.”

Dales to Vales Tree Planting in North Yorkshire is led by the Dales to Vales Rivers Network (DVRN), a catchment partnership for the Rivers Swale, Ure, Nidd Ouse and Wharfe. The project aimed to increase the amount of river tree cover, to benefit wildlife by keeping river temperatures cool, creating wildlife corridors to prevent sediment and pollution runoff from the surrounding land entering the watercourses, and slowing the flow of water into watercourses during and following rainfall.

Charlotte Simons of the Dales to Vale Rivers Network, said: “We have been able to protect watercourses across the catchments – and to get funding for smaller projects that were not able to meet the funding requirements on their own.”

River Rye Wooded Wonders, led by the Ryevitalise Landscape Partnership, has seen more than 12,500 trees planted along six kilometres of the River Rye.

Trees have been planted to reduce riverbank erosion and restore ancient semi-natural woodland in places where commercial forestry or farming has affected the natural functioning of rivers and streams.

The Wild Trout Trust delivered the Trees for Skirfare project, also in North Yorkshire, with the planting of 3,128 trees around Halton Gill, north of Malham Tarn, in the Upper Wharfe catchment.