A two-decade-long investigation has commenced to evaluate the potential of a vast newly planted woodland in the Yorkshire Dales to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change. The Woodland Trust is in the process of planting hundreds of thousands of trees at Snaizeholme, near Hawes, aiming to establish one of England’s largest native woodlands, .
The Yorkshire Dales spot was once home to a 1,386 acre forest, but is now barren. It was identified as the wettest location in Yorkshire, the site is the focus of the study, which experts anticipate will enhance our comprehension of the flood-mitigating benefits associated with trees. Conducted by researchers from the University of York and the University of Leeds, the study employs specialiased equipment to observe the site and assess extreme weather events, the BBC reports.
The research aims to expand our knowledge of how trees can play a role in reducing the risk of flooding, sequestering and storing carbon, and offering essential habitats for the recovery of nature in the uplands of the United Kingdom, as stated by the researchers. The aim of the trust is to plant 291 hectares with saplings to create one of the largest native woodlands in England.
The first stage of the mammoth project is to be funded by the White Rose Forest through its Trees for Climate funding programme.
Dr John Crawford, conservation evidence officer for the Woodland Trust, said: “We know mature woodlands deliver a range of important benefits. They provide a home for nature, lock away carbon to fight climate change and slow the flow of water helping to reduce downstream flooding.
Dr Rob Mills, from the University of York, said: “Opportunities to create and restore habitats at this scale are rare in England. Snaizeholme provides a unique opportunity to understand how carefully restoring a rich mosaic of habitats provides a range of benefits for people, nature and climate.”
Richmondshire Today reported that Al Nash, who is spearheading the project for the Woodland Trust, said that when the first of 100,000 trees are planted in phase one, it will be a significant moment for the Woodland Trust. Mr Nash said: “I love the Dales but the one thing it lacks in many areas is an abundance of trees.
“Here we will be giving nature and biodiversity a big boost and creating a vibrant mosaic of habitats and a rare opportunity to create a sizeable wildlife haven for the north of England.
Prof Dominick Spracklen, from the University of Leeds, said: “We have used a computer model to calculate that restoring the valley would reduce downstream flooding during a 1-in-50-year storm event by nearly 10%. It could be the difference between a house or a community being flooded, or not.”