Landowners who manage some of the county’s most precious landscapes are being offered financial incentives and green-fingered expertise to capitalise on ambitious government targets to dramatically increase tree cover.
On the eve of the winter planting season, thousands of pounds of new grant funding is available to landowners to create native woodlands in and around the Yorkshire Dales, courtesy of local charity, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.
Proposed projects will be judged on their potential to conserve or enhance natural heritage, to be enjoyed by the public and supported by communities.
Fresh funding is being provided with support from the Knaresborough-based Fuelcard Company and it follows newly announced government plans to increase England’s woodland cover from 10 to 12 per cent by 2060.
Nationally over the next four years, 11m trees are expected to be planted.
Carol Douglas, woodland officer at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, said: “Planting trees brings significant benefits to the landscape, environment and native wildlife species, as well as offering long term income potential for landowners.
“I’m keen to hear from landowners across the region that may be interested in working with us to create new native woodlands of any size.”
Chris Lodge, project officer at the charity, said: “There has been a reduction in public funding for woodlands creation so the funding we have got has come at the right time.
“We work very closely with the Forestry Commission, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a lot of those partners’ funding has been reduced. What we can provide is a significant contribution to help those organisations reach their targets.”
In the Nidderdale AONB, which spans 33 sq miles from the high moorland of Great Whernside towards the edge of the Vale of York, managers have a 2019 ambition to increase native broad leaved woodland cover by 350 hectares.
Iain Mann, manager of the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership at the AONB, said: “Yorkshire has lower woodland cover than the national average and that’s partly due to our upland landscapes, but with some careful thinking about where new woodlands should be, there are some great biodiversity gains to be had.”
Geoff Garrett, senior trees and woodlands officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said the benefits of increasing tree cover on farms included shelter for livestock, habitat improvement for species such as black grouse, slowing the flow of water into farmyards and combating erosion.
He said the National Park Authority was on course to meet its target to double tree cover within the park’s boundaries by 2020 - an addition of 2,000 hectares since 1995.