OVER two weekends volunteer teams from Addingham Civic Society’s Environment Group planted 1,520 trees on Addingham Moorside.

The trees are all native species suited to the soils and climate of the local area.

The scheme is the initiative of landowner Jill Feenan who, with neighbour Guy Hurwood, received funding for the project from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust under their Dales Woodland Restoration programme.

Jill’s plan is to connect existing areas of woodland to make a larger and more continuous sweep of woodland along the hillside, creating more habitat for wildlife and at the same time helping to combat climate change.

The planting programme has been directed by Dr Marie Taylor of the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. Marie is working closely with the Addingham Environment Group in their 4Becks project and she sees tree planting also as a way of reducing flood risk by slowing the flow of water into the headwaters of the becks after heavy rainfall.

The funds from the Millennium Trust were granted on condition that the site should be accessible to the general public and should be supported by the local community. Jill Feenan’s proposal to the Trust ticked both boxes perfectly.

One of Addingham’s most popular public footpaths, which also forms part of the Dales High Way, runs alongside the newly planted area. The layout of the planted areas enables walkers to make a detour from the footpath to explore and enjoy the new woodland. At the moment the trees are hidden by the plastic tree guards but very soon, after a year or two, the saplings will become tall enough to be seen and identified and hopefully we will begin to see more associated wildlife.

There is also a strong community involvement in the project. Approximately 40 members of Addingham Environment Group have been taking part. Rick Battarbee, the Group’s co-ordinator said: “We’ve had an excellent few days, involving volunteers of all ages, from age two to 75, not just from our village group but also from Silsden and Ilkley. Jill kept us going with hot drinks and soup.

“It was most enjoyable with everyone helping each other. Over the four days there were running conversations about where to plant different species of tree, the problems associated with the need to use plastic tree guards, the respective merits of planting against natural woodland regeneration and so on. It was very rewarding with many volunteers remarking to me how much satisfaction they felt at doing something so positive.”

The conditions of the grant also require the new woodland to be maintained and actively managed. This involves checking each sapling every year, replacing ones that have failed and after a few years removing the tree guards for reuse.

This story first appeared in the Ilkley Gazette.