Yorkshire Water has announced that it has begun work on its scheme to plant one million trees across its land within 10 years.

More than 14,000 trees were planted at Ogden Water in December, marking the start of a partnership that will see one million added to land owned by Yorkshire Water and leased by the Woodland Trust.  Planting will be carried out by The Forest of Bradford and the Woodland Trust. A mixture of native trees and shrubs including oak, beech and silver birch will be planted at the site to enhance the biodiversity of the site while protecting its archaeology and retaining public access.

This work will expand the White Rose Forest and form part of the plans for a new ‘Northern Forest’ – a 25-year project that will see more than 50 million trees planted across a section of the country that includes Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Chester and Hull. Spanning more than 120 miles, the Northern Forest will help boost habitats for woodland birds and bats and protect iconic species such as the red squirrel as well as providing a tranquil space to be enjoyed by millions of people living in the area.

Simon Mageean, Northern Forest programme director, Woodland Trust, said: “England is losing tree cover. We need to make sure we are protecting our most important habitats such as ancient woodland as well as investing in new ways to increase tree planting and expand woodland cover in the right places. “A new Northern Forest will strengthen and accelerate the benefits of community forestry, support landscape scale working for nature, deliver a wide range of benefits including helping to reduce flood risk, and adapt some of the UK’s major towns and cities to projected climate change. The north of England is perfectly suited to reap the benefits of a project on this scale.” Guy Thompson, White Rose Forest partnership manager, said: “The support of the Woodland Trust and Yorkshire Water has given our ambitions to increase tree cover by a third by 2036 a real boost. Our partners the Forest of Bradford, working closely with Calderdale Council, will ensure that the scheme gets delivered and has the support of the local community. “

Councillor Barry Collins said: “The launch of this ambitious project at Ogden Water is a huge milestone for Calderdale and will have far-reaching benefits for future generations to come. With the Calder Valley being a flood-prone catchment, we truly value this programme of work not only for its benefits for ecology, biodiversity and air quality but also as a complementary measure to support traditional engineered flood defences.” The north of England has a population in excess of 13 million, which is expected to rise by 9 per cent over the next 20 years, and its woodland cover stands at just 7.6 per cent, below the UK average of 13 per cent and far below the EU average of 38 per cent.

Yorkshire Water catchment and recreation manager Geoff Lomas said: “We made a commitment in January to plant one million trees in the county over the next 10 years to help reduce flood risk, capture carbon and boost woodland wildlife opportunities. I am thrilled to see trees being planted at Ogden as part of our commitment to tree planting within the new Northern Forest.” The Northern Forest is designed to accelerate the creation of new woodland as well as supporting sustainable management of existing woods across the area. It is intended to improve air quality in the region’s towns and cities, mitigate flood risk and support the economy though tourism, recreation and timber production, as well as connecting people with nature and helping to deliver improvements to health and wellbeing through welcoming and accessible local green spaces.

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