A 'LANDMARK' collaboration to help increase native woodland has been agreed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Woodland Trust.

The project will see the organisations working with farmers and landowners over the next three to four years to find sites for the creation of at least 240 hectares, or almost 600 acres, of new native woodland habitat. Work will involve designing and then overseeing the planting of schemes, and supporting new woodland owners to monitor and maintain sites to ensure the woodlands successfully establish.

The agreement is expected to bring in around £3 million of investment for new woodland creation, a proportion of which will be used to ensure the right sites are selected for planting.

Each new planting site will help to grow the White Rose Forest - the community forest for North and West Yorkshire - as well as the larger Northern Forest that will stretch from Liverpool to the Yorkshire coast, and will be delivered via the Northern Forest Partnership ‘Grow Back Greener’ funding programme.

These new woodlands will focus on the four key themes of the ‘Grow Back Greener’ programme: linking existing ancient woodlands; creating riparian woodlands; woodland creation through natural processes; and schemes which contribute to regional carbon sequestration goals.

Ian McPherson, member champion for the natural environment at the national park, said: “These schemes will provide a multitude of benefits, improving wildlife, water quality and flood management, and supporting farm businesses across the Yorkshire Dales national park.

“Through the concerted efforts of partners in the Dales Woodland Forum working with local farmers and landowners, 2,200 hectares of new woodland has been created over the last 25 years at over 170 different sites in the Dales. Our new ‘Dales Woodland Strategy’ has now set an ambition to create a further 6,000hectatres of woodland habitat in the national park by 2030.

“Through new partnerships, such as this one with the Woodland Trust, and collaborative working with local farmers and landowners we can go much further in creating quality woodlands in the right places to help tackle the climate emergency.”

Simon Mageean, the Woodland Trust’s programme director for the Northern Forest, said: “Farmers and landowners in the national park will be able to apply for up to 100 per cent of the actual costs of woodland creation and aftercare, thanks to this grant funding from the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund which is helping to deliver the England Trees Action Plan.

“The Grow Back Greener approach is holistic, flexible and site-specific, with enhanced advisor support at no cost to the landowner or land manager and an emphasis on quality nature outcomes. The National Park Authority will open an application process for interested farmers and landowners shortly”.