A COUPLE who have made it their mission to let nature reclaim land in North Yorkshire are celebrating after planting their 25,000th tree.

Helen and Christopher Neave of Northallerton are on a drive to increase the tree cover in the county for the benefit of nature.

Neither come from an ecology background – Helen was a Consultant Surgeon and Christopher ran a well-known laser eye treatment business.

However the nature-lovers feel that the space for wildlife is being squeezed by human activity, so they are doing their bit to put that right.

Eight years ago they bought 26 acres of rough grazing land near Kirk Hammerton and started planting trees, digging ponds and sowing wildflower meadows.

They say they are thrilled with the impact as almost immediately insects arrived, attracted by the new habitat and food source, and birds and mammals soon followed.

This inspired the couple to acquire more land to dedicate to nature, and they recently planted their 25,000th tree.

The couple are delighted with the transformation that trees bring, as Mrs Neave explained: “What was once quiet and almost barren grassland is now buzzing with life.

"We love to hear the warblers singing and to see buzzards and red kites flying overhead.

"We often see roe deer, foxes, hares and smaller mammals and amphibians.

"We like to think our new woodland is a haven for them.”

As well as the benefits of habitat creation, and increasing biodiversity, the Neaves are clear about the other advantages of flourishing woodland on a global scale.

Mr Neave said: “We are convinced that restoring tree cover is vital to address climate change."

Helen and Christopher now also own 110 acres in Nidderdale, which includes three blocks of Ancient Woodland.

They have just finished planting trees to reconnect the areas of woodland, to allow wildlife to move more freely.

And what started out as a family project has developed into something bigger as the couple have set up a business called Make it Wild.

This enterprise manages the land, and offers a range of eco-friendly and plastic free products and Tree Dedications online and at Farmers’ Markets.

The ethos of the company to protect nature and the resources this generates are used to support the work done on the ground.