Residents and community groups have volunteered their time to plant a new woodland and mark a year since Leeds City Council declared a climate emergency.
The woodland at Beeston Royds will include a range of tree and shrub species including oak, rowan, alder and willow.
Since the council's Big Leeds Climate Conversation closed in November around 50,000 trees have been planted by the local authority. Of the 11 bold ideas proposed by the council, a volunteer tree planting scheme was one of the most popular among respondents.
As well as absorbing carbon emissions and protecting wildlife habitats, increasing tree cover creates new green spaces for local residents to enjoy and acts as a form of natural flood management—helping to mitigate the impact of flooding in Leeds.
The Beeston Royds woodland will contribute towards the White Rose Forest: a joint local authority venture to double tree cover across the Leeds City Region by 2050.
In support of this target Leeds City Council has recently committed to planting 50 hectares on its own land every year. The council intends to work in partnership with businesses, community groups and volunteers to plant 225,000 trees annually.
The Beeston Royd planting event was planned and organised by Leeds City Council as the city's lead partner for the White Rose Forest. Additional funding was secured from the Community Forest Trust and from Balfour Beatty, who will also be hosting a volunteer planting day for staff at the site later this week.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin and Rob Lockwood, Project Manager from Balfour Beatty joined dozens of volunteers at the planting event.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said:
“It’s fantastic to see so many residents here today so passionate about tackling climate change.
“Fighting the climate emergency is one of Leeds City Council’s strategic priorities and we need widespread support from residents and organisations to help reduce the city’s carbon footprint to net zero.
“Tree planting events like this one are a great way for individuals to make a real difference, as well as a great opportunity to get outdoors and become more active. By working together, we can make Leeds a city that leads by example on climate change.
Stephen Semple, Balfour Beatty Area Director, said:
“We are delighted to support our partner, Leeds City Council, in their endeavours to tackle the climate challenge and hope that this is the first of many activities we can help with. Balfour Beatty are continuously looking for innovative methods of construction to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage biodiversity”
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Notes for editors:
Leeds City Council has also made saplings available for interested schools to plant free of charge, with 7,000 trees provided so far. Interested schools and community groups with available land can still apply before the end of March by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Beeston Royds tree planting event on Saturday was part of the first phase of a wider planting programme on the site.