BROUGHTON Sanctuary at Broughton Hall Estate, near Skipton in North Yorkshire, has become home to the largest tree planting scheme in England this year.

Working in partnership with the White Rose Forest, the community forest for West and North Yorkshire, 160 ha of trees will have been planted between December and April 2021, the equivalent of 224 football pitches.

By slowing the flow of water runoff into local rivers, the trees planted at Broughton Sanctuary will help protect communities in the Aire river valley, from Skipton down to Leeds City Centre, from the risk of future damaging flooding events. The project is therefore also strategically important within the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme led by the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council.

The project is funded by the UK Government’s Nature for Climate fund via Trees for Climate, a £12.1 million programme of woodland creation this planting season led by England’s Community Forests. Once established, the woodland will also store significant quantities of carbon and help deliver the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050.

For Broughton Sanctuary, the tree planting marks the beginning of an ambitious nature recovery programme that will transform a third of this 1,200-ha estate to a much wilder state and increase biodiversity and wildlife. As well as tree planting, early interventions to kickstart the recovery process will include the natural regeneration of trees, scrub and grasslands, the creation and restoration of wetland habitats and sensitive woodland management.

Roger Tempest, custodian of Broughton Hall Estate and his partner Paris Ackrill, co-founder of Avalon Wellbeing at the Broughton Sanctuary, said: “We surely have to wake up to the fact that respecting and supporting nature has to be a high priority on the ground now. Our lack of harmonious co-existence with the Earth is causing continued extinction of species across the globe as well as a deep lack of belonging for humanity. We are too often looking further afield to environmental degradation 'over there’, yet we have lost our places of real wilderness in Britain, wilderness which should pulse with rich biodiversity. We saw an opportunity at home.

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“We believe that the change we need to see will come through the union of rewilding our ‘outer nature’, such as the nature recovery and rewilding project at Broughton, along with the rewilding of our ‘inner nature’ which perhaps has been the root cause of deforestation and degradation of nature in England.”

Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said: “We are committed to tree-planting and natural regeneration on an unprecedented scale, and part of that will be a major focus on regenerating land alongside our watercourses. The benefits of doing so are vast, from helping biodiversity recover and absorbing carbon to slowing the flow of surface water and reducing the risk of floods downstream. The rewilding of Broughton Sanctuary is a fantastic example of this, helping plant trees where they are needed most and offering vital protection from flooding for communities all along the River Aire.”

The successful delivery of this project during a particularly challenging planting season has been achieved through close collaboration between Broughton Sanctuary, the White Rose Forest delivery team and the Forestry Commission, who has ensured that the planting was designed to meet UK Forestry Standards.

The new woodland forms part of the White Rose Forest’s Landscapes for Water planting programme that aims to reduce flood risk for urban areas situated close to major rivers and waterways in North and West Yorkshire, whilst also improving local water quality, biodiversity and recreation opportunities for local communities. 

Guy Thompson, programme director for the White Rose Forest, said: “The White Rose Forest partnership is proud to support Broughton Sanctuary to deliver this hugely important project that will help protect our environment and local communities along the River Aire.”

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