Consultation launched on England’s Tree Strategy

Plans to accelerate tree planting and improve the management of trees and woodlands are underway as the government launched a major consultation.

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The move, which will inform a new England Tree Strategy, is part of government pledges to treble current planting levels to cover 30,000 hectares a year by 2025, equivalent to 30 million new trees each year. The Forestry Commission said it hoped to ensure "the right tree is planted in the right place for the right reason".

Under the consultation, the government is seeking views on:

• how to expand, protect and improve public and private trees and woodlands as well as the increased role that trees and woodlands can play in supporting the economy;

• how best to further connect people to nature;

• the most effective way in which trees and woodlands can be created and managed to combat climate change.

Sir William Worsley, the government's former National Tree Champion, who chairs the Forestry Commission, said a balance need to be struck between the "different benefits that our woodlands provide, to nature, to people, and to the economy".

"The England Tree Strategy will set out how we plan to accelerate woodland creation, but also importantly how to manage and protect the trees we already have."

The Committee on Climate Change has recommended increasing UK woodland cover from 13% of total land at the moment to a minimum of 17% by 2050, with the aim of hitting 19%.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) warned the draft strategy does not set a tree target for England and its proposals would at best raise England's woodland cover from only 10% currently to just 12% by 2050.

"We have more than enough suitable land in England to double tree cover, yet the government appears to be saying England should hope for the best and rely on devolved nations doing more,” says FoE trees campaigner Guy Shrubsole.

The UK government says it wants to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, which are planting an additional 10,000 and 2,000 hectares respectively of woodland each year.

Ministers announced £640 million in additional funding in March's Budget for a Nature for Climate Fund.

Environment minister Lord Goldsmith said protecting and growing the UK's forests and woodlands must be an "integral part" of the country's recovery from the coronavirus epidemic and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The consultation lasts until 11 September 2020, with the strategy set to be published later in the year.

Image credit: iStock

 

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