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EU Referendum: Our stance

We have been carefully considering the opportunities, threats and challenges that the imminent referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) poses for the UK’s woods and trees.

We have not aligned ourselves with either side in the EU Referendum campaign, nor are we making any recommendation as to how people should vote.

The result of the referendum could of course impact upon us as a charity, and upon our ability to influence and deliver on behalf of our cause, a UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife. For that reason we have provided some information which supporters can use to help determine their position on this very important decision.

We are in no way attempting to influence how people vote but we hope our supporters will have woods and trees front of mind when weighing up the arguments presented by both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ camps.

Perspectives to consider

  • The European Union is the largest single body on environmental legislation in the world and EU common environmental standards provide a level playing field for businesses trying to ‘do the right thing.’
  • Wildlife does not know boundaries and membership of the EU has enabled collaborative work on environmental issues
  • Being free from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) could allow the UK the potential to shape our own land use policy rather than being forced to comply with CAP’s requirements
  • Spending on EU membership could be spent on environmental projects in the UK - and this would be up to the UK government of the time to decide

There has been too little attention paid to the environment in the campaign so far and uncertainty as to what the future may hold for the UK’s environment remains a major concern.

However now that the campaign is fully under way we urge supporters to use any contact they have from the two campaigns in the referendum to challenge them as to how they believe a decision to stay in the EU, or a vote to leave would improve the prospects for woods, trees and the wider environment.

Questions for both camps

  • How would your preferred referendum outcome enhance the prospects of better protection for the UK’s small remaining areas of ancient woodland and its exceptional veteran tree population?
  • The UK has one of the lowest levels of woodland cover in Europe and current planting rates are failing to hit government targets. How would your position stimulate a much needed increase in cover?
  • How do you see your position promoting the tackling of global threats to woods and trees such as climate change, pests and diseases?