Hundreds of hectares of woodland are being created this winter at sites across the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Twelve sites covering 43 hectares are being managed by the National Park Authority in the third year of a funding scheme called Grow Back Greener, while organisations including the Forestry Commission, White Rose Forest and Woodland Trust expect to create a further 550 hectares – most of it native, deciduous woodland.

The work means that the area is on course to meet an ambitious target of creating an average of 600 hectares of woodland each year.

The aim is to increase the area of the National Park covered in woodland from about four per cent in 2020 to seven per cent by 2030.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Woodland created at Moorhen Farm near West Scrafton

Fencing and other preparatory works have taken place at the 12 sites being managed by the National Park Authority. Planting was due to start before Christmas and will continue until the end of March.

Last winter the National Park Authority managed projects at 15 sites, covering a total of 96 hectares, with one site – at Heggs and Castle farms in Arkengarthdale – accounting for about a third of that area.

Despite long periods of dry weather this spring, all 15 sites appear to be doing well. At one site – at Moorhen Farm near West Scrafton in Coverdale – almost all the trees have established.

Mark Corner, natural environment spokesman for the National Park Authority, said: “I would like to thank all the farmers and landowners who have come forward with sites for woodland creation this winter. There are rewards for doing so, not least financial, and I would urge people to keep bringing forward sites.

“There has never been so much public funding for woodland creation in the National Park than there is now, at least not since the days of conifer afforestation in the 1960s and 70s. Through the Grow Back Greener scheme, we can meet all the capital costs of native woodland creation, such as the fencing and the provision of tree saplings, and can complete the application form and any associated paperwork.

“There are parts of the National Park that are not suitable for woodland creation. Farmland such as traditional hay meadows, as well as peatlands and the best breeding grounds for wading birds like curlew are examples of land unsuitable for woodland. But there are also thousands of hectares ideally suited for woodland creation.

“The one hectare woodland we created at Moorhen Farm last winter is a perfect case study of ‘right tree, right place’. It is in a steep-sided ghyll by a watercourse, where there are already mature trees and woodland flora such as bluebells. In effect it is an expansion of an existing woodland.

“Please don’t hesitate to contact the National Park Authority, or one of the other members of the Dales Woodland Forum, if you have similar such land that would benefit from woodland creation. We can advise on all the different funding options and help find the most suitable one.”

Grow Back Greener is a national, Government-funded scheme co-ordinated by the Woodland Trust as part of the Northern Forest partnership.