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Response to report by the Committee on Climate Change ‘Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change’

Director of conservation and external affairs Abi Bunker said:

“Today’s report is a real wake up call for Government. The release, last month, of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned we have only 12 years to prevent global warming exceeding 1.5c. The essential services that our land provides such as clean water, healthy soils, wildlife, timber and food, are all threatened by a warming climate. How we manage land is also a vital part of the solution.

“The urgency to act has never more clearly been spelled out and today’s report clearly shows that there need to be fundamental changes to land management if we are to tackle this problem.

“We welcome the recognition that we need to plant more trees and create more resilient landscapes. The report highlights a gulf between what Government aspires to and how much has been achieved so far.

The essential services that our land provides are all threatened by a warming climate (Photo: Niall Benvie/WTML)
The essential services that our land provides are all threatened by a warming climate (Photo: Niall Benvie/WTML)

“For forest cover to be increased from 13% now to 19% by 2050 as per the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations being made today, it would require a rapid acceleration in planting equating to 46,368 hectares or just over 74 million trees a year. The Government has a current target of planting 11 million trees in the life of this parliament.

“But we cannot plant for planting’s sake. It must be the right tree in the right place for the right reasons. An example of this is the collaborative approach of the Northern Forest to tackle a range of social and environmental needs in an integrated way.

“Today’s report highlights the growing need for England to have a robust land use policy in place so we can ascertain where trees are needed and can be planted without conflict. The Agriculture Bill and Environment Bill present an opportunity to really incentivise planting for all the benefits trees bring, not just carbon sequestration but also improved soil and water quality, slowing the flow of flood water, providing shelter for crops and livestock, a source of food and fuel, a home for wildlife and a space to breathe.”

-Ends-

Notes to editors

For more details or interview please contact the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or email  media@woodlandtrust.org.uk

About the Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest charity championing native woods and trees. It has over 500,000 supporters.

The Trust has three key aims: i) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife ii) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable iii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.