The scale of the York Council’s afforestation plans are becoming clearer.
A meeting taking place next week will hear that increasing York’s tree cover from the current 10.76% of the total area to 13% (national average) by 2050 would require 608 ha of new cover, or 21 ha per year.
York currently has 2,926 ha of tree canopy cover, representing 10.8%
of its total area. 60% of this canopy cover is made up of trees outside
The report says, “the rate of viable delivery imposes a significant constraint on new canopy cover. The York Community Woodland project (Knapton Forest) in West York aims to deliver 50-60 ha of new tree cover over the next two years.
A 13% target for 2050 would require a similar level of growth every two years“.
City of York Council is a member of the White Rose Forest (WRF)
partnership which aims to provide tree canopy across large parts of Yorkshire.
The WRF project assumes an ambition for a 13% target for tree canopy cover by 2050, equating to around 22-27 ha per annum. This target would result in “an annual carbon sequestration rate at 2050 of circa 9,000tCO2 per year; equivalent to around 1% of the regions total CO2 emissions between 2020-2050“.
As with the Knapton Forest project, there has been no public consultation on the plan. The costs are unknown although, based on the Knapton land values, they could mean a taxpayers bill for several hundred million pounds.
The report doesn’t assess the scope for increasing tree canopy cover on existing amenity areas or private gardens.
The effect on food production is also unclear. The areas selected for afforestation are mainly grade 2 agricultural land.
They cover large areas near Poppleton, Skelton and Elvington.