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Trees showing autumn colour on Abbotside in Wensleydale. A new ambition has been agreed to cover 7% of the National Park in trees by 2030, up from 4.3% now.

Bigger ambition for woodland in National Park

Tuesday 15 December, 2020, by News Release

Farmers in the Dales will be able to take advantage of increasing opportunities to plant and manage woodland during the next ten years, helping to maintain the viability of their farm businesses, this afternoon’s online public meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority heard.

Members of the Authority voted to adopt a new ten-year ‘Dales Woodland Strategy’, the second of its kind. The strategy has been devised by the Dales Woodland Forum, a partnership of landowners, charities and public bodies such as the Forestry Commission. 

It sets an ambition to enhance the landscape by creating 6,000 ha of woodland habitat in the Yorkshire Dales National Park by 2030.  That would take the area of the National Park covered by woodland, which is currently a smaller proportion of the total area than London (4.5%) and the smallest of any of England’s National Parks, from 4.3% now to 7%.

It was confirmed at the meeting that the ambition in the first Dales Woodland Strategy 1995-2020, to plant 2,000 hectares of new woodland, had been met.

Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, and member of the Dales Woodland Forum, Ian McPherson, said: “We have agreed that the open, farmed character of the Yorkshire Dales must be conserved.  That’s why the new Dales Woodland Strategy clearly sets out that any new woodland must enhance the landscape.  The new ambitions represent a significant scaling up of woodland creation and management in the National Park, but we are all clear that trees must be planted in the right place and for the right reasons. For example, we must ensure tree planting doesn’t adversely affect habitat used by birds of conservation concern such as the curlew. 

“The new strategy acknowledges the role that existing conifer plantations play within the Dales and careful management of them will be key to survival of the native red squirrel.  Creating further conifer plantations could be possible but only when they provide tangible benefits to the natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the National Park.

“I would like people to share my enthusiasm about the prospect of more trees in the National Park.  New woodland is beautiful. It attracts wildlife.  The good news is that public money is available for it.  Trees sequester carbon and can help with water quality, natural flood management and, crucially, farm business viability.

“Managing existing woodlands will become an equal priority to creating more woodlands.  Existing mature field trees, usually marking boundaries, are hugely important in the landscape, as are existing hedgerows, such a feature in the Cumbrian part of the National Park.   

“Our starting point will be to work with people to expand or connect existing native woodlands. If we can do this and improve public access to woodlands, so much the better.”

Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority


7 Replies to “Bigger ambition for woodland in National Park”

  1. Rob Dove says:

    Be careful that trees aren’t planted where there are rare flowers or existing carbon sinks like mosses and bogs. Forestry commission already damaged peat lands in Cumbria by tree planting!

  2. Neil Harrison says:

    I really love this, it’s such a positive relook at our environment. A plus for UK and plus for the park. ?

  3. Melanie Carter says:

    How many trees were present in the past? I love the Yorkshire dales and we are lucky to live between the Lake District and the Yorkshire dales. I would think that more indigenous trees would be good as they would help stop flooding. Everything needs to be planted in the right place of course!

  4. Jonathan Gill says:

    I recommend you read Dieter Helm’s book – ‘Green and Prosperous Land’ which provides logical economic arguments for protecting and enhancing nature in our countryside. 7% woodland is a very small amount when compared to most other areas, there is scope for far more – along with the protection and creation of other diverse habitats such as peat bog and meadow. It makes economic as well as environmental sense given the income generated from tourism. Hopefully the transition to ELMs will assist with this.

  5. Ross McNally says:

    4 to 7%? In a National Park? That is beyond pathetic. What is the point in a National Park if its ecosystems are even more depleted than the national average? The problem is clearly hinted at by the fact that the logo for YDNP is a sheep; that tells you everything you need to know about their perverse priorities.

    • Paul Boland says:

      Having recently driven through the park, I have to agree with this statement. 7% is a very low percentage. It looks like a dead landscape to me. Of course, it represents an increase from 2,000 ha to 6,000 ha in 10 yrs but, in a national park, and with funding available is there really no way to accelerate the scale of planting?

      Grazing rights will have to be looked at because the only animal getting any priority is the sheep and they ain’t going to attract more tourists. Real wildlife (beavers, pine Martin, birds of prey, etc) would but they need tree-cover to survive.

  6. Douglas Thomson says:

    Put together the rise in the number of people becoming vegetarian and vegan, the necessity to reduce global warming, the requirement to preserve and increase wildlife habitats and the need to increase tourism and it all makes a strong case for planting woodland.

    Mixed planting up of large tracks of north facing slopes in the uplands would provide all these benefits with little reduction in lamb production. By avoiding current rich wildlife areas such slopes could provide cycling and walking facilities thereby increasing tourism and the attendant work for local people. Funding could come from current sources and the expected Government’s new payment scheme for farmers.

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