After the Floods, the Forest: Locals Fighting Climate Change in West Yorkshire

The hills above the West Yorkshire village of Hebden Bridge in the UK will see an important gathering next wekend. A group of volunteers of all ages will be taking part in what they describe as "climate change of a different kind." They will be hard at work cutting back turf and planting young trees, and when they are not doing this they'll be attending workshops on climate change, community action and green living. Of course, if previous events are anything to go by, there'll also be dancing, singing, eating and drinking until well into the night.

This weekend is just one in a long line of events that have been held since the devastating floods of the year 2000 that saw Hebden Bridge, and much of the valley in which it sits, submerged under several feet of water. Local residents, concerned that the flood was just a taste of future climate change, got together to make plans to protect their valley. Under the banner of Treesponsibility, the group set out to reforest the watershed above their village in order to create a natural defence against torrential rains and future flooding. Of course the project would also sequester carbon dioxide in the trees and soils of these fledgling woodlands, and hopefully slow down the rate of dangerous global warming. So far, with the help of schools and the local community, the group has planted more than 60,000 trees and hedgerow plants. As if this was not enough, spin-off projects have included setting up their own tree nursery, fighting off plans for an open-cast mine, producing a book and video about their project, and educating thousands of people about climate change and what can be done to prevent it. According to the group's website, part of their mission is to "spread the idea and practice of land-connectedness, co-operation and community as a possible future, and the most sensible way out of the present environmental crisis." We certainly can't argue with that.

Anyone wanting to attend should contact the group first to make sure space is available.

[Written by: Sami Grover]