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Agenda item 2 - White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25

Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and Y ork

4 November 2021

White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25

 

1 Purpose of the report

To seek endorsement for the White Rose Forest (WRF) Action Plan 2021-25 due for release in November 2021, including an update on a possible scenario for 2050 for tree canopy coverage in the WRF area.

2 Background

2.1 The White Rose Forest Partnership is a joint venture between partners across West and North Yorkshire, including local authorities, national organisations and government agencies including the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust, and local organisations like Groundwork, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and community tree planting groups. Full details of the partners are available on the WRF website.

2.2 The WRF Partnership is now well established. The WRF Steering Group oversees delivery of the WRF Action Plan and the work of a number of thematic groups formed from representatives from all WRF partners.

2.3 Kirklees Council plays a leading role as the accountable body for delivery of the WRF, and a core team has been established within Kirklees Council on behalf of the partners, which reports to a WRF Management Group.

2.4 The White Rose Forest (WRF) is one of four community forests which span the width of England from Liverpool to Hull. It is the delivery vehicle for the Northern Forest in West and North Yorkshire.

2.5 The WRF is also part of the England’s Community Forest Network made up of 12 community forests which were awarded £11.1 m in 2020/21 from DEFRA’s Trees for Climate fund, part of the Nature for Climate programme.

2.6 The WRF and the development of the WRF Action Plan is identified in the Leeds City Region Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy as one of 12 key actions. It recognises the multiple benefits that trees can generate including flood alleviation and improved physical and mental health. Trees also have an important part to play in the region achieving its target of being net-zero carbon by 2038.

3 The WRF Action Plan 2021-25

3.1 The WRF Action Plan 2021-25 has been developed over the last few years and chimes well with the England’s Tree Action Plan 2021-24 published in 1 Purpose of the Report To seek endorsement for the White Rose Forest (WRF) Action Plan 2021-25 due for release in November 2021, including an update on a possible scenario for 2050 for tree canopy coverage in the WRF area. Agenda item 2 2 OFFICIAL May 2021. Representatives of North Yorkshire County Council, Craven, Harrogate, Selby, York Councils as well as Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have been active and involved in the development of the WRF Action Plan. It has been endorsed to date by West and North Yorkshire and City of York Directors of Development and the West Yorkshire Climate, Energy and Environment Committee.

3.2 The WRF Action Plan 2021-25 is a clear statement of intent for WRF partners in the City of York and North and West Yorkshire to take practical steps at a landscape scale to increase dramatically the rate of woodland creation to 1) begin creating a sizeable carbon store and 2) to provide meaningful adaptation measures such as flood reduction and cooling of urban areas.

3.3 The WRF Action Plan 2021-25 announces our “WRF Delivery Pathway” which aims to manage and process site data for all WRF projects, supporting regulatory approval and design processes and allows multiple funding options to be presented to landowners for their schemes. This co-ordination of funding will be achieved via the WRF Funders’ Group (chaired by the Forestry Commission) and is regarded nationally as a pilot for a new way of working to achieve landscape scale change.

3.4 Although WRF local authority partners have been undertaking assessments of the level of tree planting that is achievable within their areas, a certain amount of uncertainty remains as a result of government policy on land management, which is still being developed and will influence the likely amount of tree planting that can be achieved across the region

3.5 The continued support by Directors of Development of their respective District WRF Groups across North and West Yorkshire and City of York chaired and hosted by the Local Authorities with support from the WRF Core Team (originally agreed in June 2017) is another key element to the successful operation of the WRF Delivery Pathway. It allows for WRF partners and the local authorities to coordinate third party landowner engagement.

3.6 The WRF Partners propose to launch the WRF Action Plan 2021-25 in November 2021 with the West Yorkshire Mayor and a senior representative from North Yorkshire to underline that the WRF is a collaboration between the two regions. A revised standalone WRF website sets out the vision for the Forest, the principles of community and stakeholder engagement and the proposed WRF Delivery Pathway model

3.7 The WRF partnership has laid out some planting targets between 2021 and 2025 for the end of the Nature for Climate programme. These are ambitious and reflect the Government’s drive to increase significantly the rate of woodland creation.

Summary of planting targets for 2021- 2025

WRF Programme Hectares Numbers of trees
Green Streets® 1000  2,000,000
Landscape for Water - Aire 930 1,860,000
- Calder 670 1340,000
Swale, Ure, Nidd and Ouse 400 800,000
Other Rural 500 1,000,000
Total 3500 7,000,000

 

3.8 The capital for the 3,500 hectares will come from a range of funding streams including Trees for Climate and Northern Forest Grant Agreement 2 (both via Kirklees), Forestry Commission England’s Woodland Creation Offer, the Woodland Trust’s Grow Back Greener, private sponsorship e.g. Northern Gas Networks and the internal resources of the larger local authorities.

4 Looking ahead to 2050 and the WRF Plan 2025-50

4.1 In addition to this, the WRF Action Plan 2021-25 sets out a possible scenario of what could be achieved by 2050 including its potential impact on residue carbon dioxide emissions. Recent work of the WRF partners has focussed on identifying the canopy expansion and carbon sequestration targets, developing proposals for the set up and resourcing of a multi-partner WRF Delivery Pathway.

4.2 To support the District WRF Groups, the WRF Carbon Group (Chaired by Leeds CC) has assembled a group of regional and national experts in field of forestry and carbon to undertake a study to assess the potential level of carbon sequestration across the WRF and help set a tree canopy expansion target for the WRF region. The study will be published alongside the launch of the WRF Action Plan in November.

4.3 Summary of 2050 scenario to begin a wider conversation:

Proposal for consultation

Increase tree cover from 11% to 19% - 80595 additional hectares and 160.000.000 additional trees 

Bringing 90% of known ancient woodlands into management -18,000 protected

 

If the tree cover for the WRF area were to be increased to 19% by 2050, a total of potentially 9,775 kilo tonnes of carbon dioxide would have been sequestered into new woodland. This would mean by 2050, 931 kilo tonnes of carbon dioxide could be sequestered annually equating to up to 50% of expected residue carbon dioxide emissions.

4.4 A final WRF Plan for City of York, North and West Yorkshire would be produced by 2025,when government policy is expected to be confirmed and when all partners will be able to confirm expected planting potential within their areas, and firm targets can be set for planting rates and carbon sequestration potential.

5 Recommendations

5.1 That the North Yorkshire and York Chief Executive Officers’ Group (CEOs) endorses the WRF Action Plan 2021-25, ahead of its planned launch in November.

5.2 That the North Yorkshire and York CEOs Group endorses the proposal for WRF partners across York and North and West Yorkshire to continue to work in partnership to develop a full White Rose Forest Plan 2025-50.

 

Guy Thompson

Programme Director, White Rose Forest

27 October 2021

 

Appendices:

Appendix 1 - White Rose Forest Action Plan 2021-25 final draft.