The government has committed to triple tree planting rates to 74,100 acres per year, which could help sequester an additional 14 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year as part of efforts to reach net zero.
These rates are ambitious, but CLA members are committed to help make it happen. Roger Tempest shows us what he is doing at Broughton Hall.
Since becoming custodian of Broughton Hall 30 years ago, Roger Tempest has embarked on an extensive refurbishment programme, expanded its business portfolio and has launched a significant tree planting and nature recovery project to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
The tree planting and nature recovery initiative aims to put nature at the heart of the estate, which not only deliver climate change benefits, but also result in long-term benefits from the environment and local communities.
While it is universally acknowledged that trees are important in tackling climate change, only 13% of land area in the UK is covered by trees, compared to 37% in Europe. In addition to storing carbon, trees can also mitigate the effects of climate change such as flood protection, enhancing soil and helping to reduce pollution.
According to the Woodland Trust, a young woodland with mixed native species can lock up at least 400 tonnes of carbon per hectare.
This project is one of the largest tree planting schemes in England in 2021. Over a five-month period, more than 230,000 trees were planted, the equivalent of 224 football pitches. Once established, the 988 acres of trees will sequester the carbon equivalent to the emissions of at least 20,000 households per year.
The Broughton Sanctuary
The Broughton Sanctuary Nature Recovery project aims to plant more than 395 acres of native woodland as part of a wider natural regeneration plan to re-wild at least one third (more than 1100 acres) of the estate.
Roger says: "In relation to climate change, we all too often look further afield to environmental degradation in Brazil or wherever. However, here in Britain, we have lost places of real wilderness that should be brimming with biodiversity. We saw a real opportunity at the estate to plant more trees and recover habitats to deliver essential long-term environmental and community benefits."
Nature is medicine for the mind, and if anything, the pandemic has really emphasised this
Working in partnership with the White Rose Forest, which is funded by the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund, more than 230,000 trees were planted at Broughton Hall over a five-month period, which is the equivalent of 224 football pitches. It makes it one of the largest tree planting schemes in England in 2021.
The Nature for Climate Fund via Trees for Climate is a £12.1m programme of woodland creation for the 2021 planting season led by England’s Community Forests.
The trees in Broughton Sanctuary also help to reduce flood risk for communities further down the Aire River Valley, including Leeds city centre. This project is strategically important within the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme, led by the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council.
Development of the sanctuary has involved many experts, including Professor Alastair Driver, Matt Taylor, Wayne Scurrah, Richard Preston Garden Design and the in-house team led by Kelly Hollik, in addition to local councils, the Environment
Agency and Defra. Work has included restructuring several areas of woodland, installing leaky barriers and land restoration, as well as the creation of up to 110,000 m3 of storage space for surface water.
Once established, the woodland will also store significant quantities of carbon and help deliver the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050. Based on the Climate Change Committee’s 2014 household carbon emissions, the 988 acres of trees will sequester the carbon equivalent to the emissions of at least 20,000 households per year.
Native species of tree including sessile and pedunculate oaks, beech, alder and aspen, white and goat willow, silver birch, hazel, bird cherry, field maple and rowan have been chosen to boost biodiversity in the sanctuary and to offer maximum resilience to climate change by being in-step with local soil and climate conditions. Scrub species include hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and elder. The wildflower grasslands can also effectively capture and store carbon and help with reducing rainfall run-off and preventing topsoil from being washed away; thus, improving the quality of water that ends up in the river, and acting as a natural flood prevention measure.
In addition to planting trees, Roger has also implemented early interventions to further help nature’s recovery on the estate. These include the natural regeneration of trees, scrub and grasslands as well as the creation and restoration of wetland habitats combined with sensitive woodland management. It is hoped that these interventions will contribute to the UK Government target to protect 30% of the country for nature by 2030.
Farming and rewilding
Around two thirds of the estate’s land will still be used for farming, debunking the myth that rewilding and farming is irreconcilable. Roger’s view is to effectively manage land for a combination of ‘public goods’ and low-intensity, high-quality meat or plant production.
Grade three to five land is more suited to natural recovery, and was set aside for this purpose. Fertile land has been reserved for traditional farming such as sheep and dairy in accordance with existing long-term tenancy arrangements. There will be a reduction in grazing sheep on the estate, counterbalanced by an increase in beef cattle. The focus will be on producing a greater variety of high quality meat.
Over time, and once the trees have been well established, Broughton Sanctuary will introduce proxies for extinct wild herbivore species such as suitable rare breed cattle, pigs and ponies where appropriate. This will re-balance the landscape’s natural state while also increasing a habitat conducive to a variety of wild foods.
Future vision and legacy
Broughton Sanctuary aims to restore nature on the estate as it was a few hundred years ago. This is not only important in creating an environment that can capture and store carbon but is also sympathetic to the local area’s natural heritage. This work will start in earnest once the tree guards have been removed.
Roger’s approach to the estate’s ‘greening’ stems from his long-held belief in connecting visitors to the estate through the natural environment.
Many of the activities at Broughton, which Roger manages with his partner Paris Ackrill, are environmentally-focussed and include foraging, tree bathing and wild swimming. “Nature is medicine for the mind, and if anything, the pandemic has really emphasised this,” Roger says.
We feel it is our duty to leave the Broughton Sanctuary in a much healthier condition for generations to come and we aim to demonstrate how we can live in a more fruitful and positive partnership with the land. This is a case where both nature and humanity can be winners
Find out more about the work being done by clicking the link: Broughton Hall Estate