White Rose Forest: Seven million trees to be planted across North and West Yorkshire in four years

As the world faces up to its greatest ever challenge to combat the growing spectre of climate change, it is nature itself that could provide the ultimate solution.

And a major effort to rebalance the environment will be unveiled today with ambitious plans announced to plant seven million trees across North and West Yorkshire throughout the next four years.

The vision for the so-called White Rose Forest is being backed by a partnership of experts from the Forestry Commission, National Park authorities, councils, charities, community groups and businesses, who have contributed to an action plan which is being launched in Leeds today.

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The move is seen as key to providing the hugely important resource of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, which is one of the main causes of global warming, while also instigating an invaluable boost to the region’s natural environment.

North and West Yorkshire will see seven million trees planted in the next four years

The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, will today help to launch the White Rose Forest Action Plan at The Arium in Leeds, where over half-a-million young saplings are being grown by Leeds City Council for the project.

Ms Brabin said: “The importance of trees for our environment, the well-being of our communities and the future of our planet cannot be overestimated. This was underlined by the recent global commitment to end and reverse deforestation at the UN Cop26 climate summit.

“With the funding and expertise now available via the White Rose Forest partnership, we have never been in a better position to plant more trees here in North and West Yorkshire and enjoy the huge benefits they provide.”

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The seven million trees due to be planted over the next four years are set to cover an area the equivalent of 4,900 football pitches or nearly 8,650 acres.

The action plan sets out a target to plant 7,500 acres of trees each year from 2025, amid predictions that North and West Yorkshire has the capacity to increase tree canopy cover from 11 per cent to 19 per cent by 2050. If the targets are reached, it would mean up to 160m trees will be planted during the next 29 years.

Research has shown that if tree cover is increased to 19 per cent, 931 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide could be sequestered annually by 2050, equating to half of the remaining residual carbon emissions in the region.

The White Rose Forest’s programme director, Guy Thompson, said: “Every tree planted will benefit communities across North and West Yorkshire, from helping prevent flooding along river valleys to improving the air we breathe.”

The project is one of four community forests working with the Woodland Trust to create the Northern Forest. The aim is to plant 50m trees by 2032 after funding was granted by the Government in 2018.

Landowners and farmers are being urged to come forward to provide sites to ensure the plans for the White Rose Forest become a reality.

The team behind the project to create the forest will provide support for planning, funding and planting.

The White Rose Forest Action Plan, which is being launched in Leeds today, has outlined a range of funding options for projects to plant trees across both North and West Yorkshire.