Water companies to plant 11 million trees by 2030
English water companies have announced plans to plant 11 million trees as part of a commitment to ensure their industry is carbon neutral by 2030.
The joint proposals will see trees planted on around 6,000 hectares of land across England, and will also help restore original woodlands and improve natural habitats.
Although some of the proposed land is owned by water companies, additional areas will be provided by local authorities, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and The RSPB.
Local partnerships between councils and regional NGOs will ensure that projects include urban tree planting, bringing health and wellbeing benefits to communities in towns and cities.
“Trees are carbon sinks, provide crucial habitats for precious wildlife, mitigate flood risk and provide a valuable renewable resource in timber,” the government’s tree champion, Sir William Worsley, said.
“I welcome this pledge from England’s water companies, who have clearly seen the value in planting trees and acknowledged the vital role they will play in helping us to reach net zero emissions by 2050.”
The companies, which include the nine water and sewerage providers in England, were convened by Water UK, and have committed to fully deliver the habitat improvement programme.
This will provide ‘nature corridors’ that offer significant biodiversity benefits by connecting different habitats, and will focus on hedgerows and grasslands as well as tress.
It is hoped that the proposals will also improve water quality through filtration and soil stabilisation, boost air quality, and create green spaces that improve health and wellbeing.
The plans build on a strong track record from water companies, with United Utilities already planting 800,000 trees since 2005, while Severn Trent has planted over 500,000 since 2015.
The latest scheme will align with the government’s tree planting and habitat improvement programmes, and the firms involved have already discussed their plans with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
“Water companies play a unique role in running a vital public service and acting as long-term stewards of our natural environment," Water UK chief executive, Michael Roberts, said.
"The trees they plant today will be a testament in years to come of the sector’s ground-breaking public interest commitment, which goes beyond regulatory compliance, and will deliver real social and environmental progress.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM