How we look after the uplands of West Yorkshire

New trees in tree guards on an upland landscape with blue skies

Restoring our landscape for nature, people and climate change.

Looking after the breath-taking uplands of West Yorkshire is a crucial part of our work at the National Trust. Working with our partners Yorkshire Water and the Woodland Trust, we want to restore these precious habitats to benefit nature, people and the climate.

Our work focuses on restoring peatlands, planting trees and reducing flood risk. We’ve already achieved huge things at our first project together at Gorpley reservoir, near Todmorden, planting over 110,000 trees to form part of the White Rose Forest. We’ve also created 860 leaky dams and restored 350 hectares of upland landscape. Now we want to see more of our land benefit from restoration like this.

Over 100,000 trees have been planted at Gorpley, West Yorkshire
New trees in tree guards on an upland landscape with blue skies
Over 100,000 trees have been planted at Gorpley, West Yorkshire

Together, Yorkshire Water and the National Trust are the largest landowners in Yorkshire. We’ve been working together as partners since 2019 to improve catchments for people, nature and to heal climate harm.

Creating new woodlands for nature and people

Take a walk on a moorland or upland area, and you may catch a glimpse of a small shrub or tree in a clough or valley. Species such as rowan thrive in the harsh climate of the South Pennines, but many trees have disappeared due to years of pollution from the industrial revolution and changes to farming methods.

Across National Trust and Yorkshire Water land, we want to restore these native areas of woodland. We’re working hand in hand with our partners at the Woodland Trust to ensure the right trees are planted in the right place.

Creating new woodlands doesn’t just benefit nature, it also brings benefits for people to. As we start our tree planting plans, we’ll be working with the local community to make sure these woodlands become a space for recreation too.


Tree planting in West Yorkshire

We've planted thousands of native trees with our partners at Yorkshire Water, The White Rose Forest and The Woodland Trust as part of our commitment to combat climate change.

Reducing flood risk the natural way

Our work will have multiple benefits, one of which is reducing flood risk to downstream communities. When we plant trees in cloughs and valleys, this slows the flow of water over our land. The newly created woodlands will also help improve soil stability and create a home for wildlife.

Leaky dams also slow water run-off, allowing it to soak slowly into the soil. Slowing the flow of water can help turn our uplands back into healthy, thriving habitats.

Building timber leaky dams.
Volunteers build timber leaky dams on Marsden Moor in the sunshine
Building timber leaky dams.

Restoring precious peatlands

Peat is a vital tool in our fight against climate change. Healthy peat bogs trap carbon, locking it underground, storing even more carbon than forests. However, degraded peatlands can have the opposite effect, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

By building leaky dams, planting sphagnum moss and reducing soil erosion, we can restore these peatlands to healthy, boggy uplands once more.

Not only do healthy peat soils trap carbon, they also act like giant sponges, slowing the flow of water. This reduces both flood risk and fire risk.

The National Trust and Yorkshire Water are working closely with organisations like Moors For The Future, who are leading pioneering research into how to look after peat bogs in the South Pennines.

Re-wetting the moorland helps reduce fire risk
A soggy area of ground on Marsden Moor under blue skies
Re-wetting the moorland helps reduce fire risk

Next steps

Our project work in the Upper Calder catchment has already begun, with initial studies on key sites including areas around Marsden and Ripponden. Next, we’ll be carrying out full peat surveys and breeding bird surveys, to give us the detail we need for the next stage.

Get in touch to find out more about the project;


A pile of lots of different sized sticks and logs at Hardcastle Crags

Slow the Flow - Natural Flood Management at Hardcastle Crags

Have you every wondered why we make dams in Hardcastle Crags? Find out about the partnership work that we're doing to help reduce flood risk in Calderdale.