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Clock is ticking for Dales woodland project

[Tuesday 14 August 2007]
oak tree
Increasing dales woodland

TIME is running out for landowners to join a project aimed at increasing the amount of native woodland in the Yorkshire Dales.

The National Park Authority has teamed up with its sister charity, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), to run a two-year project aimed at covering 150 hectares (370 acres) with new trees.

The organisations have a pot of cash to fund tree planting - but only eight months left to spend it in.

Tree cover currently amounts to four per cent of the total area of the National Park - the lowest amount of any National Park, according to Geoff Garrett, Trees and Woodland Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

"It is important to plant trees like ash, oak, rowan and hawthorn in the Dales to join up fragmented existing woodland that may not be in particularly good condition," he said.

"Bigger woodlands have a better chance of survival both in terms of the trees themselves and the wildlife and other ground flora they support. At the same time, they are also more cost-effective to manage for the owners.

Half the £672,000 cost of the project, called Dales Woodland Restoration, is being met by English Nature's Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Fund and the YDMT is working to raise the balance.

So far, landowners have put forward nearly 70ha of land which has already been planted, but the race is now on to find the remainder of the land and to get the saplings in before the project ends next March.

Woodlands are important in so many ways - as part of the Dales' rich landscape

David Sharrod - YDMT

"There really is some urgency now because, unless we get the trees in the ground before March, the money will be withdrawn from the project," Geoff said.

"We need landowners with large areas of woodland - 10ha to 15ha - as well as those with smaller parcels."

Last year the YDMT funded the assessment of the carbon potential of just under 12 hectares of woodland - and the trees were calculated to absorb 625 tonnes of carbon as they grow.

Trust Director David Sharrod said: "Woodlands are important in so many ways - as part of the Dales' rich landscape, wildlife, history and culture - and they are even more vital as the area adapts to the increasing effects of climate change."

For further details about the scheme or to contribute match funding please contact Geoff Garrett at YDNPA on 0870 1 666333 or Chris Lodge at YDMT on 015242 51002.

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