Held in the beautiful surroundings of Ripley Castle this conference focused on the opportunities for creating woodland and the associated benefits and attracted over 50 delegates from a broad range of areas, representing local city and district councils, community groups, government agencies, independent trusts and academic institutions, as well as private landowners.
Trees are an important part of our life, providing food, timber, shelter and a host of proven health benefits but woodland also has a major role to play in helping to mitigate climate breakdown and as a means of natural flood management, which is becoming ever more important in our changing climate. Trees absorb and store the carbon from the atmosphere, which forms as a result of our carbon emissions.
Speakers from the Forestry Commission, Forest Carbon Ltd and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) highlighted the many factors to be considered in planning, creating and maintaining woodland, from the availability of funding and practical limitations imposed by landscape, to the choice of tree and the need to work in partnership with landowners.
The potential benefits to be gained from planting more woodland, covering flood management, wildlife habitat and timber production were addressed in presentations from Arup Engineering, the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) and White Rose Forest.
Valuable insights into the practical management of woodland, from planting to harvest, were provided by a farmer with almost 30 years of experience of planting woodland on arable land, including ways to manage wildlife such as deer and squirrels, which can cause significant damage to trees.
The conference reaffirmed the need for better management and protect of our existing forests and woodland and for a greater awareness of the need to increase woodland coverage. Currently the UK only has about one third of the European average woodland cover and England is significantly lower than the UK average. Large scale tree planting is essential if we are to reap the benefits, which requires the combined efforts of government agencies, landowners, commercial enterprise and individuals.
Zero Carbon Harrogate used the conference as a platform for its launch as an organisation dedicated to making the Harrogate District carbon neutral by 2035. To commemorate the launch and show support for the creation of more woodland a tree was dedicated as part of the Harrogate International Festival’s ‘Future 50 Appeal’, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary and will see 50 trees planted alongside Slingsby Walk on the Harrogate Stray.
The conference was supported and sponsored by Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate, LUSH and Rotary International.