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The Dales Woodland Restoration Programme will transform the Yorkshire landscape

PUBLISHED: 18:05 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:05 25 January 2018

Tree planting in the Yorkshire Dales brings long term benefits Photo Justin Slee

Tree planting in the Yorkshire Dales brings long term benefits Photo Justin Slee

©Justin_Slee 2017

75 hectares of new woodlands are being created throughtout the county to protect wildlife and the future of the countryside

More than 100,000 trees are being planted across the region this winter to create 38 new woodlands covering 75 hectares in an attempt to double the amount of broadleaf tree cover in the Yorkshire Dales. The planting is being carried out under the Dales Woodland Restoration Programme and should be completed by 2020.

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) is working with partners including Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust to plant the trees. Carol Douglas, YDMT woodland officer, said: ‘Trees and woodlands bring many long-term benefits and are a vital part of the landscape. But the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, and the Yorkshire Dales has less woodland than any other national park in the UK. Thanks to the support of landowners, partners and local communities, these young trees will grow to enrich the landscape and provide important habitats for our wildlife.’

Planting includes 11,000 trees at Mearbeck Farm near Settle, to cover almost 10 hectares. Species including sessile oak, common alder, goat willow, downy birch, rowan, aspen, scots pine, holly, hazel and hawthorn will help to improve biodiversity and enhance the landscape across the farm.

Volunteers from many different countries and backgrounds also came together with the YDMT to plant 700 young saplings creating an area of woodland near Settle. Staff from global service provider Serco’s COMPASS Contract, involved in the provision of housing and transport for asylum seekers in Lancashire, left their office in Warrington for a day to help plant native species including oak, holly, hawthorn, bird cherry and crab apple. They were joined by refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria aided by the Darwen Asylum Seekers and Refugee Enterprise (DARE) which provides free English lessons and advice on finding employment, as well as working with YDMT.

The YDMT is also working in partnership with Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on another large scheme which will see just over 9,000 trees planted at various locations around Pateley Bridge and Lofthouse. Many of the trees will be planted in gills to help reduce erosion and enhance water quality in nearby Scar House Reservoir. Low density planting will link to existing areas of woodland to increase habitat diversity and support bird species including black grouse, ring ouzel, song thrush and spotted flycatcher.

Many smaller woodland creation projects will also receive support this winter, including schemes near Ripon, Richmond, Ingleton, Sedbergh, Skipton and York. You can help the charity to continue this important work by dedicating a tree. It’s a special way to commemorate a birth, wedding, anniversary or other occasion, or to remember the life of a loved one. Go to or call 015242 51002 for more information.

Volunteers plant trees to create more woodlands during  project supported by Yorkshire Life, Bettys & Taylors and the National Trust Photo Justin SleeVolunteers plant trees to create more woodlands during project supported by Yorkshire Life, Bettys & Taylors and the National Trust Photo Justin Slee

Last year Yorkshire Life in partnership with Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate and the National Trust ran a photographic competition to highlight the beauty and the importance of Yorkshire woodlands.

Bettys & Taylors, famous for its international Trees for Life programme, launched a project to plant 20,000 trees with the National Trust in Yorkshire and is supporting tree planting in schools both nationwide with the Woodland Trust and close to its cafe tea rooms with environmental charity, Groundwork.

As well as planting trees in school grounds, children are venturing into local woods to build dens, enjoy snowdrop and bluebell walks and gather seeds to plant. They are also helping wildlife by building bird boxes and making feeders which help the birds through difficult winter months.

The rare and ancient Skipton Castle Woods is a top visitor experience Photo Adrian AshworthThe rare and ancient Skipton Castle Woods is a top visitor experience Photo Adrian Ashworth

Meanwhile Skipton Castle Woods has been rated as a top visitor experience by Visit England. The tourism award recognises the work going on to help the general public learn more about the rare and ancient woodland. The award comes less than a year since the Woodland Trust announced that it was investing in new local staff and additional funding at the site.

Skipton Castle Woods, owned by Skipton Castle and managed by the Woodland Trust, has a documented history dating back to the Middle Ages and has stunning seasonal displays, amazing wildlife, a river and mature trees such as oak, beech, rowan and lime. The woodland is in the heart of the town, just a short walk from the High Street.

‘This ancient wood is steeped in history and has been part of the landscape for at least 1,000 years,’ said Hazel Birdsall-Singer, Woodland Trust visitor experience officer for Skipton. ‘We are delighted to achieve this accreditation coming so soon after recent enhancements, all delivered with the support of our members. Back in January (2017) we recruited 29 volunteers from the local area; in spring we installed a unique, large poetry seat and piloted a number of new events and walks during the summer.

‘We also launched a dedicated website for the woodland and received our first TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence as a result of visitor reviews. Over the last few weeks we have installed new signs and gates at the main entrance and launched a printed walking route, the Earl of Thanet Trail.

‘We are delighted to not only have passed the recent Visit England Assessment but to have done so with a score of 82 percent, which the Visit England assessor said was “an exceptional score for a first time entrant”.’

Other visitor attractions to receive the honour include Chatsworth House, Bamburgh Castle and Salisbury Cathedral.

It’s not just tourist visitors who are benefiting from the recent improvements. The Woodland Trust, which is the UK’s leading tree conservation charity, also invested in a locally based woodland learning officer, Mel Frances, to work with schools across Skipton and Craven.

‘Schools are planting new trees and hedges and it’s so inspiring to see how much is going on in the area that the award has contributed to,’ said Mel. ‘More schools have started to visit Skipton Castle Woods and are really enjoying the experience and are connecting with this wonderful place.’

The investment at Skipton doesn’t stop here. Next year Woodland Trust plan on making improvements to the path network with replacement steps and a new path at the end of the bridge over the Long Dam and updates to the signage at other entrances to the wood.

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