Woodlands bring welcome swathes of green to the district.

But not only that - they play a vital role in supporting nature, providing clean air and water, and contributing to people’s health and wellbeing.

Across the Bradford district there are 111 woodlands covering 856 hectares, with an average size of 7.3 hectares. These areas include 66 named woods and 45 parks and green spaces that have enough trees to qualify as woodland.

The largest single area of woodland, at more than 34 hectares is Lady Blantyre’s Wood in St Ives, Bingley, with Hog Holes Beck in Keighley being the smallest at 0.28 of a hectare - about two thirds of an acre.

Despite the built-up nature of its urban areas, the district has 18,000 street trees, making up its urban forest.

Woodlands managed by Bradford Council have this year been judged once again to meet the internationally-recognised Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) requirements for responsible forest management.

The certification - which is awarded every five years - provides a solid base for the Council’s commitment to increasing the area of woodland in the district from under ten per cent to 15, as well as playing a role in development of the Northern Forest.

“All of our old and new woodlands are or have been managed,” says Bob Thorp, Bradford Council’s tree and woodland manager. “Management is about balancing the needs of people and nature.

“If we plant single species such as even-aged conifers they produce timber, but poor biodiversity. If we let a wood run wild, nature would not mind, but we would get little timber or recreational benefits.

“We focus largely on native broadleaved woodlands with good structure - diverse ages, species and lots of deadwood, giving more habitat opportunities.”

Bob and his team work to create a sustainable resource, making sure its woodlands continue to provide multiple benefits.

Woodlands are of value to the district in many ways, says Bob.“They offer places for nature - homes and refuges. They benefit our health and wellbeing, soaking up CO2, as well as helping to prevent flooding and helping to cool the urban environment.

“Trees catch harmful particulates, improving the air and soils. They also make a place attractive to live in and to invest in.”

Bradford Council is also able to profit from selling timber from plantation woodlands. All the Council’s woodlands are managed to the standard recognised by the FSC for sustainable management.

“We have around 70 hectares of ‘plantation’ woodland - post Second World War conifers that we are now harvesting,” says Bob. “Betty’s Wood at St Ives was planted in 1946/47 by German prisoners of war. When felled this year it produced more than 3,000 tonnes of sawlogs - a log of suitable size for sawing into lumber - and will be replanted this winter.

The team also removes diseased trees to prevent problems spreading to surrounding woodland.

The FSC works to the United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Standard, settings out best practice that should be followed. “We should have management plans in place and record what we do,” says Bob. “We have to comply with industry best practice when we fell, plant and perform other duties.”

The team also has to demonstrate working with local communities, as within the natural, historic and cultural environment.

“As well as a major assessment every five years, we have annual audits,” says Bob.

Sites across the district that may be suitable for tree and woodland planting are being identified. “so far we have 320 hectares with potential, and this year we have identified 36 hectares that will take 27,000 new trees,” says Bob. “We work with Forest of Bradford, and ‘friends’ groups, and this year we hope to be working closely with the tree planting charity Trees for Cities.”

The Council has around 30 friends groups helping to look after greenspaces, with eight of them woodland-specific.

“We are also looking at innovative agroforestry opportunities for grazing land - trees, grass and livestock,” says Bob.

Foresters and landowners always plant for the next generation, he says. “We are benefiting from the efforts of the Forestry Commission, set up in 1919, to create a national timber resource.”

Bradford is playing a role in the development of the Northern Forest, which will have eventually 50 million trees stretching across from Liverpool to Hull.

“We will be working with the Northern Forest, through White Rose Forest, and with our communities to find suitable Council sites for woodland creation,” says Bob. “Bradford which is known for its iconic moorlands such as Ilkley and Haworth, so we will have a challenge fitting more trees into the landscape and safeguarding that heritage.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for Healthy People and Places, said: “Bradford District has some wonderful woodlands which are much loved by local communities.

“Involving people in managing our woods is a key part of how we deliver sustainable woodlands. We have many friends groups who devote hundreds of voluntary hours to help keep our woods healthy and inviting places.

“Our next challenge is to increase the number of woodlands and trees in the district to make sure that they continue to provide all the benefits that people and nature depend on against a background of climate change.”

Says Bob: “Across the globe people need managed woodlands as part of a wider nature-supporting landscape to provide resources.

“If we don’t manage woodland we don’t get the best out of them in terms of biodiversity, timber production, recreation,and climate change mitigation.”