Community forests in Yorkshire to benefit from £12m planting fund

OVER 500 hectares will be planted with trees across the country, including in two community forests in Yorkshire, backed by £12.1 million of investment, the government has announced.

The move is part of efforts to help the government reach its highly ambitious target of planting 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of broadleaf and conifer a year across the UK by 2025 and also to combat climate change.

The UK is one of the least forested countries in Europe, with just 13 per cent of the UK’s land mass covered by trees, compared with 31 per cent of France and 37 per cent of Spain.

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According to Forest Research statistics, last year around 13,000 hectares of newly created woodland were reported in the UK.

Woodland on Skipwith Common Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The new programme - Trees for Climate - will see trees planted by 10 community forests, including by the White Rose Forest, which covers Leeds city region and North and West Yorkshire, and HEYwoods, which covers Hull and East Yorkshire, over the next five months.

Eventually the trees will store 100,000 tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of over 45,000 trans-Atlantic flights.

The funding will also help create new jobs and secure existing ones within the forestry and environmental sector and also increase supplies of sustainably grown UK timber.

North Yorkshire landowner Sir William Worsley, who is chair of the Forestry Commission, described it as an “exciting new” programme, which would benefit communities across England.

He said: “The £12.1 million boost will be a huge help both for getting trees in the ground, but also enabling each of the Community Forests to ensure they are well-managed in the long term, making sure these new woods can thrive to the fullest extent.”

Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said:“Trees are the backbone of our urban and rural environments and essential in tackling the climate emergency. This vital programme will plant trees where they are most needed to stem flooding and provide more places for nature to thrive.”