The first tree has been planted at Gair Wood, one of the most significant woodland development schemes in the region.
Located next to Golden Acre Park, the site will be planted with more than 66,000 trees, a mixture of broadleaf species including oak, alder, hornbeam, wild cherry and silver birch. As they grow they will remove carbon from the atmosphere and contribute towards the University’s target of delivering net zero emissions by 2030, as part of the University of Leeds Climate Plan.
The new woodland will contribute to the target set by the White Rose Forest partnership to see 7 million more trees planted in West and North Yorkshire by 2025. It is named after University Secretary Roger Gair, who retired in 2021 after more than 40 years at the University.
Roger Gair planted the first tree – an oak – on 2 December 2022, and said:
This means an awful lot to me. The wood will benefit the environment, the academic work of the University and the people of Leeds, and I am deeply honoured to have my name associated with it.
When finished, the 37-hectare site – the size of 37 rugby pitches – will be a mix of meadow-style areas and woodland. It will increase biodiversity, improve public access and act as a Living Laboratory for students and staff.
Dr Cat Scott, University Academic Fellow based in the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds and academic lead for Gair Wood, said:
The University is exploring its capacity to actively take carbon out of the air by growing new trees on its land. Creating this woodland will allow us to explore the impacts, in real-time, of tree planting as a nature-based solution to climate change. Researchers with a wide range of expertise are coming together to assess changes to diverse aspects of the site like the composition of the soil, the species of wildlife present, and local air quality as this new woodland evolves.
Gair Wood is a collaboration between the University through its Estates team and Sustainability Service, the United Bank of Carbon – an environmental charity that protects, plants and restores trees and forests – and the White Rose Forest. DEFRA and the Forestry Commision provided funding for the project.
Planting on the site will take place between January and April 2022. Students, staff and the wider public will plant around 5,000 trees. Volunteer planting sessions run over six weeks during January and February 2023.
You can book on to a volunteer planting session via our Eventbrite page. No previous experience of tree planting is required.
Students have already conducted baseline measurements of plants, insects, birds and mammals. Changes in biodiversity levels will be measured over the coming years. The site will also be available for research and teaching at the University. To get involved with the site for research and teaching purposes contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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