Charity launches £3.5m appeal to buy 500 acres of Yorkshire Dales countryside

Snaizeholme. Photo: James Reader, Front Row Films/WTML.

The Woodland Trust has asked for help to raise £3.5 million to buy up a section of the Yorkshire Dales and protect and expand a red squirrel reserve.

The charity wants to buy 500 acres at Snaizeholme near Hawes.

The area is already home to red squirrels and otters and the charity wants to create more woodland, as well as regenerate the area and make it a “Yorkshire beacon for the fight against climate change”.

Al Crosby, the Woodland Trust’s regional director in the north, said: “We are incredibly lucky to be given this unique opportunity to buy the site and create vibrant new native woodland for wildlife and people.

“It is a great chance to boost biodiversity at a time when the natural world is in crisis. Woodland birds will have a home there for the first time, and open scrub woodland should attract species like the black grouse.

“Trees will boost the red squirrels’ habitat through buffering existing woodland and improving the water quality of the river and beck, safeguarding the resident otters, plus birds such as herons, grey wagtails, kingfishers and dippers.

“The Yorkshire Dales are of course well known for its wonderful culture, rolling landscape and villages and of course its Wensleydale cheese – the creamery is just four miles away from the site.

“If we’re successful we can enhance the area further by creating a unique and diverse woodland habitat.

The land is currently being sold on the open market and the charity says this means it needs to complete the sale by the end of the June.

The charity says the £3.5 million would cover the cost of the land and fund the tree planting and regeneration work.

It adds that the site would become a flagship woodland creation project for the Northern Forest, a partnership between the Woodland Trust and the Community Forests in the north.

It also links with the existing woodland strategy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

If successful it would look to link and buffer existing neighbouring woodland, small patches of which are ancient.

The aim is to create a new native woodland with a mosaic of habitats,  including more open valley bottom river meadows, upland grassland and montane scrub on the exposed high slopes as well as the new woodland which will incorporate native trees such as birch, oak, aspen, rowan, willows  and Scots pine into the landscape.

The trust hopes existing wooded gullies will naturally regenerate, it will also be restoring and caring for around 167 acres of meadow and peatland, creating a truly unique mosaic of habitats.

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