LOCAL landowners are being invited to play a role in ambitious plans to plant 20,000 trees in the Bradford district alone over the next year as part of the Northern Forest project.

Bradford Council unveiled its plans this month (October) at Keighley Area Committee, and will roll out the programme at the district's other four area committees this autumn.

Underused and hard-to-mow areas of parks, recreation grounds and even parts of Ilkley Moor are sites being eyed as possible new woodland sites.

The council wants any landowners who want to take part in the planting scheme to come forward.

Keighley Area Committee members were told that the planting scheme will link to two national schemes.

The Northern Forest is a push to plant 50 million trees between Liverpool and Hull over the next 25 years, while the Urban Tree Challenge Fund is a government scheme to plant new trees in cities and towns.

Committee members were told that planting schemes taking place in the constituency in the coming months will include at Marley Community Orchard, which will also include planting space for schools, at Highfield Recreation Ground in Keighley, at Whinswood Recreation Ground between Keighley and Cross Roads, and involve creating a “forest garden” and planting fruit trees at Park Wood in Keighley.

Trees will be planted at Addingham War Memorial Recreation Ground and hard-to-mow areas of Silsden Park.

The areas total around 2 ha. The report adds: “Although these schemes are still subject to stakeholder consultation and final design decisions, indications are that these schemes are likely to be funded and completed this (planting) season.”

Across the Keighley area the council has created a long-list of 37 sites that could be used for tree planting, covering an additional gross area of 876ha. These include some areas of Ilkley Moor (approximately 738 ha) and Penistone Country Park (approximately 71 ha). Other suitable sites include 1.8 ha at Steeton tip, 1.5 hectares at Damems allotments and a 9.5 ha site at Utley Cemetery.

The council will be working with the two national tree planting schemes, as well as groups like Trees for Cities and the Woodland Trust to fund the planting.

A spokesman said: “The council is developing a number of local tree planting schemes.

“This year we plan to plant over 20,000 trees across the district but this is subject to funding. Tree planting delivers clear environmental benefits, provides habitat for animals and makes areas more attractive.

“We welcome any offers of financial support and would like to hear from landowners who would like to participate in the programme.”

This story first appeared in the Keighley News.