Woodland is becoming increasingly recognised as a valuable asset in the fight against climate change, in providing habitat to encourage biodiversity and in helping to secure our own wellbeing.
In a recent report written for Zero Carbon Harrogate, Prof Piers Forster, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change at the University of Leeds, explained the scale of tree planting needed to help us reach net zero carbon.
“Based on its 0.3% share of UK emissions Harrogate District should plant between 90 and 150 ha of new woodland every year as its contribution to the national 30,000 to 50,000 ha per year target. This would offset between 66 and 100 ktCO2 per year by 2050. A more ambitious target based on available area would be 270 ha per year on new woodland, offsetting 180 ktCO2 per year.”
That’s roughly equivalent to at least the area of the 200-acre Harrogate Stray a year and ideally three times the area of the Stray each year. This more ambitious target helps us to compensate for our historic carbon emissions, as we have benefited from burning more fossil fuels in the past that other countries. (200 acres = 80ha)
It’s not all about carbon emissions though, woodlands are a critical feature of ecosystems services, on which all life is reliant for sustenance. Ian Fraser, who heads up the Zero Carbon Harrogate Carbon Capture working group said,
“I think we all realise that we are very fortunate to live in what is a particularly lovely part of Britain, and one that is relatively sparsely populated in comparison to other parts of the country. However, we also live in one of the most nature depleted landscapes in the world, which has happened for long standing historic reasons, but is also now accelerating. Much of that acceleration is because of the climate crisis.”
The Northern Forest project, announced by the government in 2018, is set to increase our woodland cover by one third, with 50 million trees to be planted over the next 25 years, growing and linking existing community forests from Liverpool to Hull. It will bring many benefits to the Harrogate District, which sits centrally within the White Rose Forest - one of the existing community forests.
Local residents have the opportunity to get involved and help create their own forest. Zero Carbon Harrogate has two forthcoming tree planting opportunities near Burn Bridge, where volunteers will be needed, and in the longer term are building up a core of volunteers to help with this long-term project. Please contact us if you would like to help or complete and submit our volunteer form
Land for tree planting is also urgently needed and Zero Carbon Harrogate would like to hear from landowners who could offer their practical support. Everyone can help by planting a suitable tree or two in their garden or by donating to the Rotary Club of Harrogate carbon balance fund, details of which can be found here