TREES have been planted in the Yorkshire Dales National Park as part of a long-term strategy to double their numbers by 2020.

The Park Authority’s deputy chairman planted a hazel at Freeholders’ Wood by Aysgarth Falls, to signal during National Tree Week that woodland creation is becoming ever more important for the Authority and the Dales.

The target set in 1995 was to double the area of native broadleaved woodland in the Park by 2020, by creating 2,000 hectares of new woodland.

The 25-year Dales Woodland Strategy will come to an end in March next year and the target is looking certain to be met.

However, despite the significant planting work, trees still cover only five per cent of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the lowest of any UK National Park except the Broads.

Neil Heseltine, who farms in Malhamdale, has planted trees on his land and said: “We’ve had one area of our farm given over to woodland, and had some hedging put in, but this is the first time I’ve planted a tree myself.

"It’s great to be doing this with the younger staff, because tree planting is about looking to the future.

"The next 25-year Dales Woodland Strategy is being put together now by all the partners involved. "We are looking to set an even more ambitious target this time round.

"We need more trees in the Yorkshire Dales National Park because they produce a renewable resource while sequestrating carbon and providing vital wildlife habitats.”

He added: “We know that farmers and landowners are running businesses, and it’s important that the right schemes are in place to make woodland creation good for business.”

The planting was part of a Youth Forum activity day which included a talk on woodland management.