How a pair of Yorkshire landowners created a woodland wildlife haven

With help from the Woodland Trust, Christopher and Helen Neave turned their blank canvas into a veritable haven for wildlife.

In 2011, Christopher and Helen Neave bought 25 acres of rough pasture in Kirk Hammerton. With no ecological background but a clear ambition, they planted 18,000 trees and over 7 acres of wildflowers to create a masterpiece for nature.

The couple began by contacting the Woodland Trust. Expert Pete Leeson advised them on site preparation, wildflower seeding and tree species, as well as signposting to other sources of help.

‘It’s amazing how quickly animals and birds move in once you create a home for them,’ explains Helen. ‘Just listen to the birds – they weren’t here before because there was nothing for them. Now you can easily hear five or six species at the same time, and see red kites and buzzards flying overhead.

‘The place is buzzing. We have hares, deer, foxes, voles, other smaller animals and plenty of invertebrates – and the beginning of all this biodiversity was the trees.’

It’s not just biodiversity that benefits. Planting the right tree in the right place can also reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, capture carbon, trap pollutants and slow the flow of flood water.

The trees also provide shelter and shade for the native cattle that grazes some of the Neaves’ land.

Trees - Woodland Trust

Create your own wildlife haven

The Trust’s MOREwoods scheme is ideal for anyone planting half a hectare or more.

An adviser will contact you to discuss the best species, maintenance and how to get results. They’ll help design your new wood and guide your application throughout.

MOREwoods has already created more than 2,000 hectares of woodland and planted over two million trees. A quality assurance scheme guarantees every sapling supplied is sourced and grown in the UK.

‘It’s rewarding to think we’re providing a habitat to species that might be struggling a little,’ Chris concludes. ‘Planting trees was a shortcut to creating a varied and rich habitat.’

Trees - Woodland Trust


No obligation advice and support is available for eligible schemes even if you decide not to plant. The Trust can provide generous funding and in some cases can help with the planting as well.

For help and advice for your planting project, call 0330 333 5303 or visit