Work starts on huge new forest in Yorkshire Dales

Snaizehome. Photo: Paul Barker Ltd.

The first trees are to be planted for a new forest at Snaizeholme in the Yorkshire Dales.

The Woodland Trust is aiming to plant 291 hectares of a huge site with saplings which would create one of the largest native woodlands in England.

This first phase of tree planting at Snaizeholme has been funded by the White Rose Forest through its Trees for Climate funding programme. Trees for Climate, part of Defra’s Nature for Climate fund, provides grants for woodland creation within all Community Forest areas in England.

Al Nash, who is spearheading the project for the Woodland Trust, said this weekend – when the first of 100,000 trees will go into the ground in phase one – will be a significant moment for the Woodland Trust.

Mr Nash said: “I love the Dales but the one thing it lacks in many areas is an abundance of trees.

“Here we will be giving nature and biodiversity a big boost and creating a vibrant mosaic of habitats and a rare opportunity to create a sizeable wildlife haven for the north of England.

“Woodland birds will have a home here for the first time in centuries, and open scrub woodland should benefit endangered species like the black grouse.

“It’s clearly a wonderful opportunity to create something tangible in the Yorkshire Dales for the fight against climate change. The work we do here will restore an entire ecosystem, lock away carbon for years to come, and help improve water quality and mitigate flooding in the area.”

Exerpts say that centuries ago, the ancient glacial valley would have had swathes of woodland stretching across the landscape, but now the 561 hectares (1387 acres) site is almost devoid of trees.

It’s a situation repeated across the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where total tree cover is less than 5% and ancient woodlands only make up 1% of that cover.

The Woodland Trust say it is determined to change this. Thanks to a successful public campaign it raised the funds to buy the site, which includes helping to protect a significant red squirrel population, providing much-needed habitat for this threatened native species.

The charity says Snaizeholme will be a unique and complex piece of conservation work due to the range of habitats and species, the topography and elevation – not to mention the estimated 2m of rainfall per year.

Tree planting will exist alongside huge restoration projects, including 113 hectares (279 acres) of blanket bog / deep peat, approximately 100 ha (247 acres) of limestone pavement and over 77.4 hectares (191 acres) of open valley bottom following Snaizeholme Beck.

The trust is planning to plant almost 291 hectares (719 acres) with native tree saplings. The approach to planting will see different densities of trees planted across the site to create groves, glades and open woodlands that gently transition into and connect with the other habitats, all delivered without the use plastic tree guards or herbicides.

Due to the complexities, the number of trees that will go into the ground will be determined as the project progresses and the trust will work closely with the University of Leeds and the University of York.

The project at Snaizeholme is supported by sponsors Aviva, B&Q, Screwfix, Bettys & Taylors Group of Harrogate.

Guy Thompson, director of the White Rose Forest, said: “We are delighted to see tree planting underway at Snaizeholme.

“This truly outstanding project will not only bring numerous benefits to the Dales and its communities but also demonstrates the continued commitment of the White Rose Forest to deliver landscape scale projects for natural flood management and nature recovery in Yorkshire.”

Key aims of the Woodland Trust at Snaizeholme
  • It will become a flagship woodland creation project for the White Rose Forest, the Community Forest for North and West Yorkshire, and the Northern Forest, a partnership between the Woodland Trust and some of the Community Forests in the north of England.
  • The project as a whole will deliver against the YDNPA ‘Dales Woodland Strategy’ This new strategy 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 from 4.3% to 7%.
  • There are over 250 acres of upland peatbog, crucial carbon sinks – the Trust will look to restore them working with the Yorkshire Peat Partnership.
  • With a staggering 21 (42km!) streams running down into Snaizeholme Beck, there is a huge amount of work needed to slow the headlong rush of flood water during heavy rains that contributes to flooding in urban areas downstream.
  • Long term research collaboration with the University of Leeds and the University of York – including monitoring the development of woodland and water quality on site.
  • Have a site free of all plastic tree protection. The Woodland Trust vowed to cease the use of any new plastic tree protection at its sites by the end of 2021.

1 Comment

  1. Huge and very important development. Seen it close up as a group of very hardworking tree experts leave the hostel at Hawes first thing and get back late in the evening. Very welcome guests.

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