West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and others brave the snow to plant trees on Marsden Moor and help restore landscape

9 February 2024

National Trust press release

The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, plus Yorkshire Water chief Nicola Shaw and National Trust Regional Director Mike Innerdale were among those who gathered to plant trees to celebrate the launch of a major new conservation programme in the South Pennines.

Eastergate Bridge, on the fringes of Marsden Moor, has been an icon of the area since it first allowed pack horses to safely cross the river in the 17th century. This week the Grade-II listed monument witnessed more history in the making, as members of the public, politicians, business leaders and National Trust Rangers braved the elements to come and plant trees here to mark the official launch of a major new conservation programme.

Landscapes for Water is a £7 million, 5,500ha programme of landscape recovery devised by the National Trust and Yorkshire Water through their Common Cause partnership. Across the next five years it will plant more than 350 hectares of new native woodland across five main areas of the South Pennines – around 300,000 trees.

The programme was officially launched at a community planting day today (9th February) with the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, and Yorkshire Water CEO, Nicola Shaw, as well as National Trust Regional Director, Mike Innerdale, and White Rose Forest Programme Director Guy Thompson in attendance.

National Trust rangers and members of the Colne Valley Tree Society, who are involved in the on-the-ground roll out of the programme, were on hand to help with the tricky practicalities of getting two-year-old bare-root saplings ‒ known as whips ‒ through the snow and into the ground.

Alongside the tree planting, the Landscapes for Water programme will include landscape-scale moorland restoration through the planting of sphagnum moss for moorland restoration and the installation of 3,500 leaky dams. All the conservation will take place across five main areas of the South Pennines, on National Trust and Yorkshire Water land.

As well as creating and improving wildlife habitats, the aim of the programme is to slow the flow of water across the moor, and to mitigate against flooding, wildfire and climate disaster.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “With recent storms and floods, we’ve seen the devastating effects of climate change first hand, and it’s vital we act now to reduce carbon emissions and protect our homes and businesses. We’re dedicated to working with partners to build a greener, more vibrant West Yorkshire that’s resilient for the future.”

The Trust’s report, A Climate for Change: Adaptation and the National Trust, published in November 2023, called for “greater ambition and action to tackle climate impacts nationally” – including more partnership work with other organisations.

Mike Innerdale from the National Trust said: “Landscapes for Water is one of the most important partnership projects that the National Trust has invested in as part of our organisation’s focus on Climate Change adaptation.

“We need help to look after the places in our care that benefit millions of people. By working together with our partners, like Yorkshire Water, the White Rose Forest and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, we can achieve far more than we could alone.

Yorkshire Water’s chief executive, Nicola Shaw, said: “Initiatives like this one showcase the great power we have when we work in partnership with others. The Landscapes for Water programme will deliver a range of benefits, across Yorkshire Water and National Trust land, from slowing the flow of water and protecting communities from flooding, to capturing carbon, and providing a habitat for Yorkshire’s wildlife.

“The landscape around Marsden will become a thriving environment.  Thanks to the knowledge of National Trust, the White Rose Forest and other partners we have worked hard to choose appropriate trees for each site. Together, as large landowners working together, we will have a positive impact.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has contributed £1.9m to the programme’s plans for Natural Flood Management, which includes interventions, such as leaky dams, while the tree planting has been supported with over £1 million from the White Rose Forest, via their Trees for Climate programme, part of the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund.

Guy Thompson, the White Rose Forest’s Programme Director, said: “The White Rose Forest is delighted to support and fund this programme of woodland creation on National Trust and Yorkshire Water land in the South Pennines.

“The new woodland planting around the edge of Marsden Moor is both hugely important and ambitious in terms of design and the benefits it will bring for local communities, biodiversity, wildfire prevention, and much more. It is also a significant contribution towards our wider White Rose Forest Plan to increase woodland cover across North and West Yorkshire.”


Notes to editors:

1.     Landscapes for Water is a joint programme between the National Trust and Yorkshire Water, which aims to improve upland habitats across our land in the Upper Calder and Colne catchments in the South Pennines.

2.     The Landscapes for Water Programme is possible thanks to funding and support from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the White Rose Forest (Trees for Climate Fund) and Woodland Trust.

3.     The trees planted will form part of the White Rose Forest, the community forest for North and West Yorkshire, as well as the larger Northern Forest project that is planting trees from Merseyside to the Yorkshire coast.

4.     West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s NFM Programme focuses on reducing the frequency of flooding in the Calder and Aire Valleys, which causes millions of pounds.

5.     Established in 2019, the National Trust Yorkshire Water Common Cause partnership aims to make Yorkshire’s water catchments more resilient and more beautiful as well as delivering benefits for nature, climate and for people.

6.     Please note that Landscapes for Water is a ‘programme’ (not a project) and should have a lowercase ‘f’ in ‘for’.

7.     Surveys undertaken, which have been used to inform the woodland design: Phase One Habitat and UKHab Survey, Initial Assessment of Impact Report, Peat Depth Surveys, Breeding bird and wading bird surveys, National Vegetation Classification and Grassland Fungi Surveys.

8.     350 hectares of woodland will be created in clough valleys across the land areas. These trees will be a mixture of broadleaf native species, including species like rowan, birch, willow and hawthorn.

9.     3,500 leaky dams will be installed across the 5 sites. These will be a mixture of stone dams, willow dams and wooden dams.

10. 35 water-storing pools and 35 bank-stabilising fascines will be installed. This will reduce erosion and encourage vegetation to grown on bare banks.

11. The National Trust manages 2,300 hectares of Marsden Moor, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protected Area and a special Area of Conservation due to the ground nesting bird population and blanket bog habitat.

About National Trust:

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 24 million people visit every year, and together with 5 million members and over 65,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its work to care for special places for ever, for everyone.

For more information and ideas for great seasonal days out go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Registered charity number 205846.

About Yorkshire Water:

We’re Yorkshire Water. The people trusted to take care of Yorkshire’s most valuable natural resource. On the surface, it sounds simple. We manage and look after the region’s water. But water is not quite like anything else. We’re not like any other business – and nowhere is quite like Yorkshire. Our work means much more than just supplying clean drinking water, taking away wastewater and looking after the region’s coast and countryside. We’re an integral part of Yorkshire life and millions of people who live and work here rely upon us, every single day.

About West Yorkshire Combined Authority:  

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority brings together the local authorities of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, and is chaired by the Mayor of West Yorkshire. Working in partnership, we develop and deliver policies, programmes and services which directly benefit the people of West Yorkshire. Our vision is to create a West Yorkshire that is prosperous, well connected, safe, inclusive and a hotbed of creativity and sustainability. For more information visit westyorks-ca.gov.uk

About The White Rose Forest

The White Rose Forest is the community forest for North and West Yorkshire, working in partnership with local communities, government, businesses and landowners to plant trees for the benefit of everyone and the environment. The White Rose Forest team are experts in woodland creation and provide free planning, funding and delivery support for tree planting projects across the region.  For more information visit: www.whiteroseforest.org