A family with a smallholding in Craven has created the first new woodland to arise from a ‘landmark collaboration’ between the Woodland Trust and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The Hinds family from Woodhouse Farm near the village of Austwick have planted nearly 5000 native broadleaved shrubs and trees in a five hectare (12 acre) field.
The mixed native woodland has been created through a Northern Forest scheme called ‘Grow Back Greener’.
Landowners and farmers are now being encouraged to make applications to the scheme, which offers significant financial incentives including upfront maintenance payments.
Kath Hinds, speaking after Cumbria-based contractor Graham Bradley Landscape and Forestry Ltd had completed its work, said: “We had a lot of people walk past at the weekend and had a great reaction. Almost everybody said they couldn’t wait for the trees to grow.
“We’ve got ancient woodland, Oxenber Woods, right next to us, and the idea was that we wanted to continue that down the hillside. There is already a feeling of walking in a forest, even though the trees are so small. You get a sense of what it is going to be like.”
Daughter Annabel Hinds said: “I’m excited to see how these trees will grow. We’ve planted them to help the environment and to have a place for the animals to live.”
The Grow Back Greener scheme is seen as critical to achieving an ambition, set by the Dales Woodland Forum, to create 6000 hectares of woodland in the Yorkshire Dales National Park between 2021 and 2030. As outlined in a blog post published today – ‘Woodlands in the Dales: the backstory to the big story’ – if realised, this ambition would increase tree cover in the National Park from four to seven per cent.
Mark Corner, acting Chair of the Dales Woodland Forum, said: “We are looking to see the area of land covered by native woodland in the National Park increased to a level not seen for hundreds of years, as part of the nation’s response to the climate and nature emergency. Yet not every site will be right for trees and care will be taken to ensure that woodland creation will be supported only where it will enhance the character of what is a treasured, farmed landscape.”
To help farmers and landowners, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has produced detailed mapping on its website that shows the sites that are more likely to be suitable, and those that are not.
Member Champion for the Natural Environment at the National Park Authority, Ian McPherson, said: “I would like to commend the Grow Back Greener scheme to landowners and invite them to get in touch with us about bringing forward an application. We are looking for sites of at least two hectares. The process is straightforward and the financial incentives for establishing and maintaining a woodland are appealing.”
He added: “People won’t fail to notice that plastic tree guards have been used to help establish this first ‘Grow Back Greener’ woodland. We share concerns about plastics and are involved in funding research into alternatives. We are also making sure that tree guard removal is a fully-funded part of planting agreements.”