The proportion of the Dales classed as woodland is under 4%. It is acknowledged that an increase in tree cover would bring various benefits.
In recent years several tree diseases have been identified which could result in a widespread loss of trees and a consequent effect on the landscape. It is
important to protect the tree cover and to seek to replace any losses.
Large areas of commercial forestry were planted in the Dales in the 1960s and 1970s. These forests are now mature, and their felling leads to problems over
extraction routes and questions about appropriate replanting.
The active management of woodland, especially ancient and semi-natural woodlands, has been shown to provide multiple benefits. These include biodiversity, carbon
storage, improved water quality, economic benefits to farming and local communities, and enhancement of the landscape.
- We believe that the varying amounts of tree cover in the Yorkshire Dales are an important component of the beauty of the landscape and the natural and cultural
history of the area.
- We recognize that research has shown that strategic planting and careful management of new mixed woodland and hedges has benefits for upland farming (providing
shelter for stock and timber for on-farm uses), flood management (reducing water run-off), biodiversity (increasing the quantity and range of wildlife), and carbon-capture.
- We generally support the comprehensive advice on woodland siting and design set out in the Yorkshire Dales NPA’s Woodland siting and design guide and Nidderdale
AONB’s Woodland opportunities plan.
- We are concerned about threats posed by tree diseases identified in the Dales. We believe that priority should be given to biosecurity in woodlands.
All new plantings of saplings and young trees in existing woodland, newly created woodland, or open parkland and wood pasture should only use plants sourced from seed with a documented
provenance and verifiable history of being grown in mainland Britain.
- We regret the large-scale commercial planting of conifer forests which occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, radically altering the open fell landscape in parts of
the Dales. We recognize however that this is a situation we inherited when the Society was formed, and we will concentrate on pressing for the most beneficial management of the forests and for
the most appropriate felling and replanting.
- We welcome the fact that the Forestry Commission has dedicated its own forests as open access areas under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act, and we
believe there should be wider access rights to forests and woodland.
What we will do
- We will support measures to conserve and enhance the woodland in the Dales. We will also support projects which will
increase the amounts of native woodland, taking account of appropriate siting and design.
- We will encourage the active management of woodlands, especially ancient and semi-natural woodlands, for their multiple
- We will promote biosecurity in woodlands in the Dales by urging the use of seeds and plants with a verifiable local
- We will support the extension of funding for the planting of hedges and mixed woodland.
- We will support measures to encourage biodiversity in woodland and forests, especially projects to increase and protect the
red squirrel and the dormouse, sensitive management of deer, and non-commercial planting of native species in the uplands.
- We will support moves to make all woodlands available for public access – for walking, riding, cycling, nature study and other forms of quiet non-motorised
- We will only support planting of new woodland on open access land if access is protected in perpetuity by dedication under the CRoW Act prior to planting taking
- We will oppose further large-scale planting of conifer forests and will seek to ensure that existing forests are managed in ways that bring multiple benefits,
in particular to enhance biodiversity and landscape character and provide access for access and recreation.
- When forests are to be felled, we will press for extraction routes which are the least disruptive to the landscape and to both local residents and visitors.
In particular, we will urge that as far as possible timber is transported by rail rather than by road.
- When felled forests are to be replanted, we will press for plans which achieve a range of benefits, including not only timber or wood-fuel production, but also
enhancement of biodiversity and public access, carbon storage, and improvements to water quality and water flow. We will seek phased replanting, so that wider range of age-groups occur within
the forests, and substantial proportions of broadleaved trees rather than confer monoculture. We will urge the developments of wider glades, spaces around water-courses, and other features
which will improve biodiversity and provide more attractive access routes. We will also seek changes in the outline of the planted areas which fit more naturally into the landform and are less
sharp and jarring in the landscape.