Landowners needed to support plan to plant 7 million trees

This story was published 18 November 2021

Landowners needed to support plan to plant 7 million trees across North and West Yorkshire by 2025

White Rose Forest Action group photo

Seven million trees, the equivalent of 4900 football pitches or 3500 hectares, could be planted in North and West Yorkshire over the next four years as part of an Action Plan launched today by the White Rose Forest partnership.

The White Rose 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.¹

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.  

The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, helped to launch the White Rose Forest Action Plan today 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.”

Cllr Derek Bastiman, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Business and the Environment, said: “Working in partnership across West and North Yorkshire enables us to create the plan for the White Rose Forest at the scale necessary to have a significant impact.

“We’re setting ambitious targets, but I am confident that the public and landowners, whose participation is essential for the White Rose Forest to reach its potential, will embrace the opportunities and benefits afforded to combat climate change and support the diversity and sustainability of the natural world, which is so important to our daily lives and the economy of North Yorkshire.”

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.

Read the White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25.