BUILDING materials company Tarmac is celebrating entering its fifth year of a ten-year partnership with Clapham-based charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

To mark the occasion, Tarmac teams took part in the first volunteering event of the year with two days of tree planting at Wildshare with Mearbeck, planting around 1,700 trees.

This was supported by one of of the trust's new woodland trainees, a role that has been created with Tarmac’s support to address the shortage of young people coming into the forestry sector, while at the same time providing environmental job opportunities for people in the Dales.

Last year, Tarmac employees took part in five volunteering events, together totalling 375 volunteering hours. These included the planting of 920 trees, building five tree shelters, and the removal of 3,300 plastic tree guards for recycling as part of the trust's plastic free woodland’s project.

Over the last two years, Tarmac’s funding has helped the trust to plant 38,717 new native broadleaf trees in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas, creating 22 hectares of habitat for people and wildlife to enjoy.

It has also helped create 2,167 metres of hedgerow, increasing this vital habitat for the area's most vulnerable and precious wildlife, and recycle 20,700 redundant plastic tree shelters from 17 sites across the Dales and Nidderdale, removing plastic pollution from woodlands and water courses.

Tarmac’s funding has also been used for the trust's wider woodland work supporting community growing schemes in the Dales, such as the ‘Seed to Sapling’ project, which is helping to ensure the right species of trees are planted in the Dales by growing native tree saplings from local provenance seed.

The scheme was launched in the Autumn of 2022, when the trust partnered with several community groups, giving them the tools, skills, and materials to set up their own tree growing schemes.

It is helping to strengthen efforts to develop a landscape richer in trees, woods, and hedgerows, with tree cover of varying types and densities planted using locally grown stock from across the national park.

As well as working closely with communities to help set up, develop, and sustain the first tree growing schemes, the ‘Seed to Sapling’ project will also provide opportunities for a wide range of people to get involved in tree growing and planting, including opportunities for vulnerable groups from towns and cities near the Yorkshire Dales to learn about and get involved in woodland creation.

This in turn will help empower people to take practical action for nature and engage with the wider issues of climate warming and biodiversity loss.

The community tree growing schemes also provide a vital resource for the trust's woodland trainees to gain experience and skills in the woodland sector as part of their specialist woodland traineeship programme.

Tarmac’s funding has also been used to support the trust's community outreach work, enabling the delivery of projects like the ‘Woodland Wellbeing’ programme, offering opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to connect with nature to improve their mental health and learn new skills.

The programme enables young people who are disadvantaged through isolation, poor mental health, or socio-economic reasons to discover woodlands, connect with nature in a meaningful way, and to do something positive for the environment.

Richard Hore, development officer at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, said: “Support from companies like Tarmac is vital to the work we do in the Dales. We are incredibly grateful for their funding and volunteer support and everything that they have helped us achieve in support of people and planet in the last year.

“Tarmac have been a pleasure to work with and it is a huge boost to have them as a valued strategic partner. 2023 was the partnership’s best year to date for volunteer numbers and we look forward to working together in the year ahead.”

Steven Curtin, senior area operations manager at Tarmac, said: “It has been another great year working with YDMT and we are enormously proud of how the partnership has developed. We are looking forward to continuing to work together, helping to create new woodlands, supporting people to enjoy the Dales, and protecting the national park.

“The volunteering events are an excellent way for our employees to give back to the local environment and are thoroughly enjoyed by all who attend. Access to nature is something we know is important for people's mental health, so it is great to be able to offer this opportunity for our employees to take time away from their regular jobs and get outside whilst doing their bit for the environment.”

Tarmac will continue to support the trust in its woodland strategy, which runs from 2023 to 2026, supporting people, landscape, and wildlife for future generations.

It includes the planting of 100,000 trees and shrubs, encouraging the management of woodlands by supporting landowners and engaging volunteers, and the development of a network of community tree nurseries to provide local provenance planting stock that is best suited to the area.

It also involves the engaging of a minimum of 300 individuals in woodland activities, including 150 who face disadvantage, and the hosting of three woodland trainees over the next three years.

The strategy will also aim to support the development of recycling hubs for plastic tree guards across the country, to continue to trial alternative tree shelters and other approaches to woodland establishment; and provide a minimum of two central recycling collections per year in the Dales, aiming to send 40,000 guards each year to be recycled.

More about the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust at: