Background

The Government's England Tree Action Plan has set out ambitious aims to at least treble woodland creation rates across the country, supporting the UK's target of planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland per year by the end of the current parliament (January 2025 unless called sooner).

To meet these ambitions Kirklees Council is working towards increasing its tree canopy cover to 19% by 2050.

As a key partner of the White Rose Forest , this ambition aligns with the White Rose Forest Action plan 2021-2025 . It also dovetails with wider council priorities related to Clean and Green and the declared Climate Emergency.

Purpose of woodland creation

The planting of trees and creation of woodland provides multiple benefits to an area and the communities that live there. These include:

  • removal of carbon from the air and contribution to long-term carbon storage
  • helping to alleviate flooding by slowing the movement of water through the land
  • improving air quality by taking particulates out of the air we breathe
  • improving water quality by cleaning and filtering water before it reaches water courses.

These all help towards mitigating the effects of climate change.

Importantly, woodland creation also:

  • increases biodiversity, expanding the variety of habitats, plants and animals, and helping to reverse the national decline
  • provides communities with access to high quality green spaces to promote exercise, recreation and other associated health benefits
  • provides economic benefits - adding trees and woodland helps to transform areas by increasing their attractiveness, making them places that people want to live, work and invest.

Land and woodland in Kirklees

Kirklees covers an area of 40890 hectares, with Kirklees Council owning approximately 9% of the land.

Land type and uses include:

  • Urban
  • Suburban
  • Agricultural
  • Pennine fringe uplands

Woodland currently covers approximately 15.2% of the Kirklees district. The council currently owns 600 hectares (Ha) of the woodland, approximately 10% of the woodland within the district.

What makes a woodland

Woodlands are diverse ecosystems, not just groups of trees and include:

  • open spaces
  • a range of habitat types
  • different layers of vegetation growth
  • different makeups of soil

All woodland creation on Kirklees Council owned land is also delivered in line with The UK Forestry Standard .

Choosing a planting site

Specific characteristics of identified land guide where and how it is designed, and the benefits and main purposes that can be achieved by woodland on a site.

When designing new woodlands, as well as climate change mitigation, influencing factors and considerations include:

  • geographical location
  • existing and surrounding features
  • relationship with the landscape topography
  • current ecological wildlife value, the existing habitats, plants, and animals, along with the potential range of habitats that could be created
  • current land use
  • surrounding community and their needs

Woodland creation programme

Completed schemes
Year Scheme
2019/20 Planted 8,366 trees over 7 hectares
2020/21 Planted 27,498 trees over 18 hectares

New schemes

The council is putting together a program for creating new woodlands up to 2025. This will be based on available council land identified for potential planting. Land is identified across a broad range of land types, from parks and open spaces to land within the council's farm and grazing portfolios.

Works are ongoing to explore further council-owned land that may be available and suitable for new woodlands. Alongside this work we continue to investigate opportunities to engage with private landowners and managers to deliver further woodland creation on land owned by third parties.

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