Plan to treble tree-planting rates in England for climate and nature
Written by Hitmix News on 16 May 2021
England plans to treble its tree-planting rates for the good of nature and the climate, the government says.
Some 2,340 hectares are planted each year but the government promised this will grow to 7,000 hectares annually by the end of this parliament.
The England Trees Action Plan will be launched on Tuesday and is expected to set out how woodland cover will be increased with tree planting, focusing on native trees, and natural regeneration.
The plan will also include funding for new nurseries to produce disease-free saplings.
Image: Some 13% of the UK is wooded but climate advisers say this needs to increase to 17% by 2050. Pic: AP
But campaigners say it is not enough, being less than a quarter of the UK-wide target of 30,000 hectares a year by 2024.
The low target has raised questions about how much of the UK goal will need to be met by non-native commercial conifer plantations in Scotland, which campaigners say to do benefit wildlife or humans.
Critics have also warned that the placement of planting drives must be carefully considered, as some previous efforts have hurt the environment by draining carbon-storing peatlands or planting on wildlife-rich heaths.
Environment Secretary George Eustice will launch the plan at Delamere Forest, Cheshire, and is expected to say: “We will make sure that the right trees are planted in the right places and that more green jobs are created in the forestry sector.”
Danny Gross, trees campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The government’s new plan fails to rise to the challenge of the climate and nature crisis.
“It means England would grow less than a quarter of the woodland needed to hit the government’s existing unambitious short-term target for the UK, leaving Scotland and Wales to do all the heavy lifting.
“The government needs to up its game and set a long-term tree cover target, protect other natural habitats and support farmers to grow more trees.”
Rewilding Britain spokesperson Richard Bunting said the government should at least double the country’s woodland cover over the next decade, meaning natural regeneration should be the focus.
“Allowing and assisting trees to naturally establish over large areas – supported by native tree planting in suitable sites – is the best way to transform the fortunes of our crippled forests and woodlands, to benefit people, nature and climate.”
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Abi Bunker, director of conservation and external affairs, Woodland Trust, said: “Trees can deliver for climate and nature but the relationship isn’t straightforward.
“The UK’s woodland cover has nearly tripled since the beginning of the last century, but much of the increase has been low diversity forestry plantations.”
Some 13% of the UK is wooded but experts have said this needs to increase to 17% by 2050 to absorb some of the country’s carbon emissions which cannot be eliminated.
That means 90 to 120 million trees – 30,000 hectares – being planted in the UK annually.
Some 13,700 hectares were planted in 2019-20 but most of this was in Scotland.
In England, 2,100 of the 2,340 hectares planted were broadleaf tress, which the government says benefit nature such as insects, birds and mammals.
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