Responding to today's speech on the future of the environment by the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Gove, in which he stated the importance of woodland creation and need for policies and incentives to stimulate it, Woodland Trust chief executive Beccy Speight, said:
“Only a month ago we were calling for fresh thinking to arrest the 12,000 hectare shortfall in woodland creation and today’s announcement could herald the change needed.
“Farm payments which reward environmental protection and enhancement can only nurture more integrated land management, in which trees play a crucial role.
“Whether for flood alleviation, improving soil quality or enhancing animal welfare an increase in trees planted, in the right way, can support measures which benefit the public, farming and the economy.
“Alongside yesterday’s Defra confirmation of £13m in grants being available this autumn and today’s land management vision presented by the CLA there seems to at last be an appetite to revolutionise our outdated approach to the countryside.”
The Trust hopes today's announcement will also be accompanied by action on areas not bound up with Brexit, in particular the party's manifesto commitment to increase ancient woodland protection.
In 2016-17 only 7,000 hectares of woodland were created across the UK.
In 2013 the Forestry Commission announced its target of planting 5,000 hectares per year in England. Since then, it has managed 7,600 in total. Last year 1,100 hectares were planted compared to 700 in 2015-16.
Last year the Woodland Trust, through its various woodland creation schemes aimed at landowners, farmers, schools, community groups, local authorities and businesses, planted approximately 2.2 million trees– the equivalent of 850 hectares.