Green corridors help Yorkshire forests to flourish


26 May 2023

Future generations will benefit from more than 5,000 trees and shrubs which we planted as part of our commitment to bringing more trees around our motorways and major roads.

Green corridors help Yorkshire forests to flourish

The new plants have been placed at five locations near junction 42 of the A1M north of Leeds, close to Micklefield, South Milford and Fairburn, which fall within the White Rose Forest and the Northern Forest.

Our Senior Environmental Specialist Tim Haskell said:

“Roadside verges and nearby land and wetlands are home to diverse wildlife, insects and natural habitats, and it’s very important to us that we protect these areas as well as build new, sustainable ones.

“We’ve planted various native broadleaved species in that area to increase woodland cover in the region and support animals, insects and birds. These include English Oak, which supports more biodiversity than any other tree species in the UK, Field Maple, a broadleaf attractive to caterpillars and aphids and a species which resists air pollution and Hazel, which has long been associated with pollen for bees and food for woodpeckers, nuthatch, and dormice.”

As well as contributing to the Northern Forest project, the new trees and shrubs contribute to our wider aim of increasing woodland cover in England to 12%.

The planting of trees was made possible through our designated funds. It’s just one of the nature-focused projects taking place near our road network during Nature Week.

We're one of the country’s largest landowners, with 30,000 hectares of green land.

Tim added:

“Tree canopy cover in this part of the country is just over seven and a half per cent, considerably lower than the national average of 13 per cent.

“The saplings we have planted will in time act as carbon sinks. They’ll provide much-needed habitat connectivity for wildlife and improve soil stability as well as slow the flow of flood water on to the road network.

“We’re not just planting for the landscape. We’re planting for ecology as well, developing a green corridor to link our cities and our wildlife.”

National Highways Nature Week

To mark UN Biodiversity Day (22 May), our Nature Week highlights nature-focused work by us and our partners around the country. 

Last week we unveiled our new Environmental Sustainability Strategy setting out our vision for a connected country and a thriving environment - ambitious plans to deliver a more sustainable road network that not only connects the country but also protects and enhances the environment over the next three decades. 

Our ambition is to not only mitigate the impact of England’s busiest roads but ensure they can be used as a force for good for generations to come. 

Designated funding

We manage four designated funds, allocated by the Government, to deliver benefits above and beyond building, maintaining and operating England’s strategic roads.

The planting has been funded from our Environment and Well Being Designated Fund, which supports the company’s vision of a greener, more sustainable road network.

The funding for the White Rose Forest is split into £15,000 for detailed design, £60,000 for implementation in 22/23. This will be followed with £15,000 per year for the following five years to establish the new trees.

White Rose Forest

The White Rose Forest is the community forest for North and West Yorkshire, working in partnership with local authorities, landowners, businesses, and communities to increase woodland across the region. It is the largest of England’s 13 community forests and part of the Northern Forest that will stretch from Liverpool to the Yorkshire coast.

Northern Forest

The Northern Forest is a plan to plant 50 million trees in and around the northern cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull over the next 25 years requiring an estimated £500m of investment.

The Northern Forest is a joint initiative between conservation charity The Woodland Trust and four community forests in the north of England, The Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, the White Rose Forest, and Humber Forest. It will see the planting of at least 50 million trees over the next 25 years to help transform the landscape from Hull in the East to Liverpool and Chester in the West. Since 2018 more than three million saplings have gone in the ground.