Tree planted at Aysgarth Falls to mark National tree Week

Deputy chairman Neil Heseltine is assisted by tourism support officer and Youth Forum member Katy Foxford.

Farmer Neil Heseltine has planted his first tree, assisted by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s youngest members of staff.

The authority’s deputy chairman planted a hazel on Tuesday morning at Freeholders’ Wood by Aysgarth Falls, to signal during National Tree Week (23 Nov – 1 Dec) that woodland creation is becoming ever more important for the Authority and the Dales.

The 25-year Dales Woodland Strategy will come to an end in March next year.   The target set in 1995 was to double the area of native broadleaved woodland in the park by 2020, by creating 2000 hectares of new woodland.  This is looking certain to be met.

However, despite the significant planting work of the past two and a half decades, trees still cover only 5 per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the lowest of any UK National Park except the Broads.

Neil Heseltine, who farms in Malhamdale, said:  “We’ve had one area of our farm given over to woodland, and had some hedging put in, but this is the first time I’ve planted a tree myself.

“It’s great to be doing this with the younger staff, because tree planting is about looking to the future.

“The next 25-year Dales Woodland Strategy is being put together now by all the partners involved.

“We are looking to set an even more ambitious target this time round.  We need more trees in the Yorkshire Dales National Park because they produce a renewable resource while sequestrating carbon and providing vital wildlife habitats.”

He added:  “We know that farmers and landowners are running businesses, and it’s important that the right schemes are in place to make woodland creation good for business.”

After the planting of Mr Heseltine’s hazel, fifteen members of staff, gathering for the second of two annual Youth Forum activity days, heard a talk on woodland management before planting a further 49 hazel trees in the wood.