Family first in region to join scheme aiming to create 6,000 hectares of woodland in the Yorkshire Dales within next eight years

An environmentally-conscious family has become the first in the region to sign up to a collaboration between the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) and The Woodland Trust which will create tree-planting and native woodlands at levels not seen in the region for hundreds of years.

The Hinds family from Woodhouse Farm, near the village of Austwick, have had nearly 5000 native broadleaved shrubs and trees planted across 12 acres of their land in a scheme called ‘Grow Back Greener’.

It may take between 10 to 15 years before the planting resembles a woodland but it is part of a wider project to increase tree cover in the National Park from four to seven per cent.

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The trees planted include species native to the area such as wild cherry, hawthorne, hazel, holly, rowan and downy birch.

Richard and Kath Hinds with sons Oliver and William at Woodhouse Farm near the village of Austwick in the Yorkshire Dales National Park who have planted nearly 5000 native broadleaved shrubs and trees in a five hectare (12 acre) field.

Landowners and farmers are now being encouraged to make applications to the scheme, which offers significant financial incentives including upfront maintenance payments.

The Hinds were keen to take part in such a project with a view to complementing the work they are doing on their smallholding, which they moved into two-and-a-half years ago, and for carving a greener environment in future for their children and potential grandchildren.

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“The government is considering energy plans which involve mechanical elements of carbon capture, for all the reasons we understand, but what better way than planting trees which are known to be a natural way of managing carbon in the environment. I would much rather do that than something man-made.”

What looks like a field of tree protectors is set to become woodland over the next 15 years in a scheme that landowners in the Yorkshire Dales are being encouraged to sign up to. Richard Hinds and his family have teamed up with the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) and The Woodland Trust which will create tree-planting and native woodlands at levels not seen in the region for hundreds of years.

The scheme saw five men plant 5,000 trees within two days, on the Hinds’ land. The other 13 acres is for sheep grazing and an orchard of plum and apple trees. Whilst it is not part of the Grow Back Greener project, it complements it.

Mr Hinds added: “Most trees are 50cms high, each is protected at the moment so all you can see is a field of tree protectors with not a tree in sight. By the end of the summer a decent number will be protruding above the protectors. Realistically it will be three, four or five years to be visual and 10 years before we have anything that looks like a woodland.

“It is a 15 year scheme, we agreed to keep it for 15 years but the intention is that it will be for a lot longer than that.”

The Grow Back Greener scheme is critical to achieving an ambition, set by the Dales Woodland Forum, to create 6,000 hectares of woodland in the YDNP between 2021 and 2030. If realised, this would increase tree cover in the National Park from four to seven per cent.

Mark Corner, of the Dales Woodland Forum, said: “We are looking to see the area of land covered by native woodland in the National Park increased to a level not seen for hundreds of years, as part of the nation’s response to the climate and nature emergency. Yet not every site will be right for trees and care will be taken to ensure that woodland creation will be supported only where it will enhance the character of what is a treasured, farmed landscape.”