You may have noticed some white chalked areas in Nunroyd and Springfield Park recently. These are being marked out for woodland planting by Leeds City Council. The purpose of this is threefold.

  1. Firstly, Leeds City Council have approved a Woodland Creation Scheme, to plant 5.8m trees across the city over 25 years, as part of their ‘carbon neutral’ aims. More information here and here.
  2. Secondly, to improve the environment and landscape. In the LCC Landscape Report 2011 (updated from 1994), the landscape around Aireborough was identified as needing to be conserved and enhanced. One of the actions noted was the re-establishment of wooded copses of broad leaved trees on the lower levels, and along becks and roads, through a programme of small scale planting that would enhance natural regeneration.
  3. There is a need to connect and enhance ecological corridors across Aireborough, to provide links between the Aire and Wharfe valley: there are too many isolated pockets of natural areas; small woodland copses are one way of building more corridors. The Neighbourhood Forum is currently mapping out key corridor links for the Neighbourhood Plan.

Leeds Woodland Scheme

The Park woodland planting scheme will be on Council owned land and cover 50 hectares of parks and green space each year across the city. LCC will make sure these spaces are the right size to have a positive impact on the area. They will be creating paths, glades and clearings, so that people can access and enjoy the new woodlands for many years.

The trees will consist of native trees such as hawthorn, oak, elm, field maple together with beech. There were seed-collecting sessions across the city at the end of October, with seeds being cleaned and potted to grow on for 2 years at the Council’s nursery, The Arium. Trees being planted during the winter of 2020/21 are being bought in. When each planting happens, local volunteers will be needed.

Privately Sponsored Schemes

All of this is taking place on Council owned land. To compliment this there are woodland areas being planted privately often with the help of the Woodland Trust, but also through good stewardship schemes. These include

  • In 2012 Freya’s Spinny was planted at Upcroft by the side of the site of the old Roman Road. This was supported by the Woodland Trust as one of the Queen’s Jubilee Woods.
  • In 2019, Parkinson’s Park planted a new woodland on the restored lower slopes of the Chevin’s flank. This was sponsored by Brooks Ecologicial as a Carbon Offsetting scheme.
  • There have been private planting of trees on the Odda, and others are being considered around the Park Gate area.

In 2022 it will be The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (70 years) and there is another woodland planting scheme being promoted in 2021 to mark that occasion – The Queen’s Green Canopy. This has got potential to be used for an avenue of trees around a road, or field boundary as one of the landscape enhancements required.

Aireborough’s Woodland Heritage – Landscape Conservation and Enhancement

Woodland is an important characteristic of the South Pennine Landscape of which Aireborough is part. The Forum has been collaborating with Pennine Prospects on their ‘Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage’ Project. A book on the findings from this work has just been published and is due to launch in 2021. The project sought to understand how woodlands in the South Pennines have developed and the part they have played in the local economy and character. This knowledge helps with understanding the woodland that we still have and also how it can be restored and enhanced.

Picture of a South Pennines, Bronze Age Landscape, from Pennine Prospect’s – Celebrating Our Woodland Heritage

Treating the landscape as a whole with care is essential ………..Studies of the past, both historical and archaeological, have shown that woodlands were always part of a wider economy and ecology. How we treat them reflects our culture as whole. Are they pretty places to be consumed and then forgotten, or an essential part of the place that we call home? Are they to be industrially exploited, or are they a valuable resource to be managed well and nurtured?

This work compliments work done on the Aireborough Landscape by the Neighbourhood Forum where woodland was examined as a landscape characteristic.

Woodland Heritage Timeline
Aireborough has a timeline of woodland types as identified in the West Yorkshire Heritage Landscape Characterisation Report (HLC). Woodland first started to appear post glacial retreat as the climate warmed – alder in the wetter areas, oak, elm and lime on the slopes, and copses of oak, hazel and birch on the hill tops. The trees on the hill tops later turned to peat, giving a valuable resource for fuel and building. Woodland clearance began from the Mesolithic period and has occurred for different purposes down the centuries leaving a valuable heritage.

One of Aireborough’s most iconic copses, planted after the enclosure of the common around 1800.