Kirklees part of plans to plant seven million trees across Yorkshire
Seven million trees, the equivalent of 4900 football pitches or 3500 hectares, could be planted in North and West Yorkshire (including Kirklees) over the next four years as part of an Action Plan launched today by the White Rose Forest partnership.
The White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25 sets out how tree planting can be accelerated across the region over the next four years to build up to a sustained annual target of approximately 3000 hectares per year from 2025 onwards.
Beyond 2025, research undertaken by the partnership suggests that North and West Yorkshire has the capacity to increase tree canopy cover from 11% (recorded in 2018) to 19% by 2050. This would mean planting approximately 160 million trees over the next 29 years.
The UK Government has committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and tree planting is currently the most effective method we have to remove carbon from the air. The White Rose Forest partnership therefore commissioned the United Bank of Carbon team at the University of Leeds to scientifically assess how much CO2 could be removed from the atmosphere through tree planting across North and West Yorkshire. The results suggest that if we increase tree cover to 19%, by 2050 931 kilotonnes of CO2 could be sequestered annually, equating to 50% of the remaining residual carbon emissions within the region.
The White Rose Forest is supported by a partnership of experts from the Forestry Commission, national park authorities, local government, charities, community groups and businesses in North and West Yorkshire who have all contributed to the Action Plan. The Action Plan is backed by increased funding for tree planting within the White Rose Forest following the launch of the Government’s Nature for Climate fund in 2020.
Kirklees Council is the accountable body and, with support from the Community Forest Trust and other partners, manages a small core team to provide support and continuity across the partnership.
Councillor Will Simpson, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member for Climate and Environment, said: “In Kirklees we have committed to making our borough carbon neutral by 2038 and an essential part of our ambition is tree planting.
“In addition to the many initiatives we have introduced locally to encourage greener travel, we also need to do all we can to actively remove carbon from the air and tree planting is one of the best ways to do that.
“The White Rose Forest is a ground-breaking scheme that we’re proud to be leading. The planting of seven million trees by 2025 shows how seriously we in Kirklees. alongside the rest of West and North Yorkshire, take our role in addressing the climate crisis and building a cleaner, greener future for everyone.”
The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, helped to launch the White Rose Forest Action Plan on Wednesday 17 November 2021 at The Arium in Leeds, where over half a million young saplings are currently being grown by Leeds City Council for the White Rose Forest.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “When I was elected, I pledged to do everything in my power to tackle the climate and environment emergency. Last month, I launched the West Yorkshire Climate and Environment plan to set out how we will transition to a net zero carbon economy by 2038.
“The importance of trees for our environment, the wellbeing of our communities and the future of our planet cannot be overestimated. This was underlined by the recent global commitment to end and reverse deforestation at the UN COP26 climate summit.
“With the funding and expertise now available via the White Rose Forest partnership, we have never been in a better position to plant more trees here in North and West Yorkshire and enjoy the huge benefits they provide.”
The White Rose Forest team is available to provide a wide range of expert planning, funding and planting support and would like to hear from any landowners or farmers who are interested in tree planting on their land. As set out in the Action Plan, the White Rose Forest can now provide a wide range of funding options for projects of all sizes in North and West Yorkshire.
Guy Thompson, White Rose Forest Programme Director, said: “There has never been a better time to plant trees thanks to the competitive funding and support now available for landowners and farmers. The White Rose Forest partnership is here to support all landowners in North and West Yorkshire.”
“The White Rose Forest Action Plan is ambitious because we need to respond to the climate emergency. As a community forest, our local communities are at the heart of everything we do. Every tree planted in the White Rose Forest will benefit communities across North and West Yorkshire, from helping prevent flooding along river valleys to improving the air we breathe.”
The launch of the White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25 took place at The Arium in Leeds, which is the largest local authority nursery in the country with capacity to grow over 3 million plants per year. With increasing demand for locally grown saplings, Leeds City Council is now looking at how The Arium can support more White Rose Forest projects.
To read the White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25 please visit www.whiteroseforest.org/actionplan