National Park project sees more than 300 hectares of woodland improved and 58,000 plastic tree guards removed
A 15-month woodland restoration project that recently came to an end in the North York Moors National Park has far exceeded its initial targets, managing to conserve and improve more than 300 hectares of important wooded habitat - equivalent to more than one solid square mile of trees.
Working in both ancient and newly-planted woods, the Woodland Restoration Team removed invasive and non-native plant species, planted new trees and carried out essential maintenance. Perhaps most remarkably, 58,200 plastic tree guards were removed and recycled into new products.
The project was possible thanks to a grant awarded in late 2020 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. Coming out of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aim of the Fund was to help kick-start environmental renewal whilst stimulating new jobs in the nature sector. The North York Moors National Park Authority and the North York Moors National Park Trust were jointly awarded a grant of £156,000, which over the course of the project, provided seven people with employment and specialist training, including six young practical workers aged under 25.
Rachel Pickering, Woodland Team Leader for the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:
“The project has achieved some great things for the woodlands of the North York Moors, but perhaps the biggest success has been the impact it’s had on those who received training and employment. Not only have they learned new practical skills in a real-work setting, but also a knowledge and appreciation of conservation that has allowed them to successfully find further work. One of our young team members has even gone on to set up his own local forestry contracting company. This is the best outcome as it helps to fill the shortage of such contractors locally and gets great conservation work done on the ground.”
Alongside those directly employed by the project, an additional 13 people took part as volunteers, each spending time outdoors and learning about the woodland heritage of the North York Moors.
Volunteer Jill Patterson said of her experience:
“It was really inspirational to work alongside the young apprentices. Their patience and humour in teaching an ‘oldie’ how to do things was fantastic.
“Learning about the effort and care that goes into healthy managed woodland was all new to me. Feeling useful in a beautiful setting certainly helped this recent retiree cope with the transition out of employment.”
Building on the success of the project, the National Park Authority are keen to develop a longer-term project with similar ambitions, including a greater degree of woodland creation work.
Communications Officer, North York Moors National Park Authority
The North York Moors National Park
The North York Moors is a beautiful landscape of stunning moorland, ancient woodland and historic sites. Created on 28 November 1952, it became Britain’s sixth national park. Covering an area of 554 square miles (1,436 square kilometres) the National Park has 26 miles of coastline, two national nature reserves, 840 Scheduled Monuments and over 3,000 listed buildings, attracting an estimated 8.4 million visitors a year.
The National Park has two visitor centres, Danby Lodge National Park Centre and Sutton Bank National Park Centre, providing opportunities for cycling, walking, eating, picnicking, shopping, crafts and wildlife-watching. The centre in Danby also houses the Inspired by… gallery, which features regularly changing exhibitions by artists who draw their inspiration from the North York Moors.
The North York Moors National Park Authority works with a wide variety of people to care for this beautiful corner of Yorkshire, providing apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities with nearly 14% of staff being apprentices from local families.
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