FARMERS across Yorkshire and the North-East are being offered the chance to further improve the environmental value of their farms by collectively planting 5,000 native trees – either as single trees in the landscape or small plantings.

In recognition of the importance of farm trees, the NFU North East region has joined forces with the Woodland Trust to launch The Big Farm Tree Planting. This offers 500 packs of ten trees, together with necessary stakes and guards, completely free of charge to NFU members.

The cell-grown trees will be made available for collection from four locations around the region ready for planting in the spring. All farmers need to do now is register to take part.

James Copeland, NFU regional environment adviser, said: “The value of farmland trees is often overlooked but it is estimated that there are between 20 and 50 million hedgerow and field trees in England, covering very roughly 2.5 per cent of the land area.

“The majority of mature trees in the countryside, not including woods and gardens, have their origins in hedgerows and an impressive 130 priority wildlife species are associated with, or rely on hedgerows.

“Trees are also increasingly valued for their ability to store carbon and, in some circumstances, slow the flow of water from the hills to lowland areas during wet weather events, so this joint initiative provides our members with a great opportunity to replace ageing trees, add to existing hedgerows or to put non-productive areas of land to an alternative use.”

Sian Atkinson, the Woodland Trust’s senior outreach manager, said: “Planting the right trees in the right place on your farm, as well as attracting and supporting wildlife, can provide shade and shelter for livestock and food for pollinators.

“Increasing tree cover is now recognised as key to tackling the nature and climate crises in the UK, and these ten-tree packs give NFU members the opportunity to play a part.”

Two different packs of native trees are available for upland and lowland situations. The upland pack includes sessile oak, goat willow, rowan, crab apple and downy birch. The lowland pack includes pedunculate oak, hazel, field maple, crab apple and wild cherry.

All the trees are sourced and grown in the UK or Ireland to help in the fight against pests and disease and to make the landscape more resilient to these threats.

Members of the Woodland Trust team will be on hand when the trees are collected and there will be an opportunity to sign up for further expert advice on tree planting and management.

To register, go online to Trees will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.