FARMER Neil Heseltine, deputy chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, has stressed the need for more trees to be planted in the national park.

Mr Heseltine, who farms in Malhamdale, planted his first ever tree with the help of the park's youngest members of staff, during last week's national tree week.

The planting of the hazel, at Freeholder's Wood, near Aysgarth Falls, was part of the park's commitment to the creation of woodland.

The 25-year Dales Woodland Strategy, due to end next March, set a target to double the area of native broadleaved woodland in the national park by 2020.

The national park says its target, to create 2,000 hectares of new woodland looks certain to be met.

However, despite the significant planting work, trees still cover only five per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the lowest of any in the UK, accept the Broads National Park, in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mr Heseltine 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."

He said the next 25 year woodland strategy for the Dales was now being put together.

"We are looking to set an even more ambitious target this time round," he said.

"We need more trees in the Yorkshire Dales National Park because they produce a renewable resource while sequestrating carbon and providing vital wildlife habitats.

“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, 15 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.