Yorkshire Dales: Thousands of trees to be planted in national park

image copyrightBill Allsopp/Loop Images/Universal Images Group vi
image captionThe park authority aims to plant trees covering 6,000 hectares in the Yorkshire Dales

Thousands of trees are to be planted across an area spanning more than 11,000 football pitches in the Yorkshire Dales.

Currently the Dales has the least woodland coverage of England's 10 national parks.

A 10-year strategy to increase its woodland has been revealed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority which aims to cover 6,000 hectares.

A park spokesman said new plantations must add to the area's natural beauty.

Earlier this year, the Friends of the Earth claimed the park had just 4.1% woodland cover, compared to 4.5% in London.

A meeting of the authority heard its woodland strategy for the past 25 years involved working with farmers and landowners to plant trees covering about 2,220 hectares, but a "significant acceleration" of the scheme was planned.

By 2030 the authority aims to create 6,000 hectares of woodland habitats, with priority given to projects that "strengthen wildlife habitats, increase carbon storage and help to reduce flooding", the Local Democracy Reporting Service says.

While concerns had been raised over potentially harming the national park's views, the authority's members heard the plan was "entirely compatible with retaining a primarily agricultural landscape".

The 6,000-hectare target would take the total woodland cover up to 7% of the park's area - still fewer than the other nine national parks.

Ian McPherson, the authority's natural environment champion, said: "The new strategy acknowledges the role that existing conifer plantations play within the Dales and careful management of them will be key to survival of the native red squirrel.

"Creating further conifer plantations could be possible but only when they provide tangible benefits to the natural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the national park."

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