MORE than 715,000 trees have now been planted across the district as part of Forest of Bradford’s goal of one million.

Planting by staff and volunteers has resumed, with socially-distanced planting at sites including Low Wood in Riddlesden, where between 300 and 400 trees have recently planted.

“To reach 715,000 is brilliant, and a lot of people have benefitted from the trees,” said Jacob Silver, environmental officer with Bradford Environmental Action Trust (BEAT), of which Forest of Bradford is part.

“Understandably there has been a lull with the pandemic, so it is good to get things up and running again.

“Before lockdown we limited the number of volunteers at planting sessions to six on a morning and six on an afternoon, which over a weekend was 24 people, so we got quite a lot done while keeping safe.”

Forest of Bradford came into being in 1998 to increase woodland cover throughout the district and create a sustainable wooded landscape in both rural and urban areas.

Thanks to the project swathes of woodland, copses, small pockets of trees and patchworks of hedgerow have established themselves across the district. The planting has benefitted many areas, such as the hillsides bordering Canal Road. School grounds, farmland and business premises have also seen injections of green that have made a marked difference to the visual aspect.

The initiative was set up in partnership with local communities, businesses and other organisations. Volunteers have been integral to its success, helping to plant thousands of native deciduous trees over the years.

Anyone lending a hand will reap the benefits, said Jacob, who is managing the project. “It is quite physical work which is really good for mental health, especially for anyone who has been cooped up for a while. It is something a bit different - as exercise it makes a change from going for a walk. It is doing something positive, and you are meeting other people too.”

As the trees mature, they also have to be managed. Once they get to a certain age they need to be thinned and pruned to create the right space for them to grow.

Volunteer Oliver Walker took part in a tree planting session at Low Wood. “Having never planted a tree before there was a lot to learn,” he said. “Jacob took us through all of the steps needed to plant trees that will grow successfully, which involved creating a ‘T’ cross in the ground, before pulling up the dirt and placing the tree inside, ensuring that all of the roots were covered. Then, we had to hammer a stake into the ground, which would hold a tube to ensure that the trees would grow straight up.

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable session knowing that I was giving something back to the environment. I would definitely volunteer again.”

Any school which has an area in its grounds which they feel would benefit from trees - which are planted at schools free of charge - can contact BEAT. Private landowners too, can suggest sites. There is a charge for planting on private land.

For more information contact Forest of Bradford on 01274 487270 or visit see also Forest of Bradford Volunteers Facebook page.