Tree planting statistics released today show the scale of the challenge in meeting the net zero emissions target Government has committed to, say the Woodland Trust. It will require a three-fold increase in current woodland creation levels.

 

Figures however are up overall across the UK, mainly because of large increases in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but figures for England are down. The Woodland Trust was responsible for planting 50% of the whole broadleaf woodland figure reported for England.

Provisional figures released by the Forestry Commission* show that although the amount of new woodland created rose to 13,000 hectares from 9,000 the previous year across the UK, targets have been missed. In England just 1,420 hectares of woodland was created against the Government aspirational target of 5,000 per year.

The percentage of woodland cover in the UK remains at 13% (10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland).

Yesterday the Government committed to act on the Committee on Climate Change recommendations and legislate for net zero emissions by 2050. The CCC report called for an increase in UK woodland cover to 17% by 2050. This would require a planting rate of 30,000 hectares a year until 2050.

Woodland Trust director of conservation and external affairs Abi Bunker said:

“The UK needs renewed ambition when it comes to tree planting and woodland expansion. The scale of what needs to be achieved to reach net zero targets is obvious; it will necessitate a three-fold increase on current levels.

“Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future. To avoid climate breakdown we have to act, that’s the reality we live in, tough choices, big challenge, but we can all rise to meet it head on.”

“If the framework is in place, meeting the ambition of 17% tree cover is achievable. We stand ready to work with Government to develop innovative approaches to delivery as the launch of the Northern Forest Innovation Fund this week demonstrates.  But it is essential to address the climate and natural environment crises together – recognising them as being interconnected and not two separate challenges – this means that native woodland along with other natural habitats will play an important role for both carbon and biodiversity.”

The Woodland Trust continues to play its part. In 2018 the Trust planted, gave away or sold 3,254,048 trees, creating some 1,714 hectares of woodland across the UK. In England the Trust planted over 500 hectares of native woodland, 50% of the total figure reported. We stand ready to continue and expand our work with Government, partners, landowners, community groups and schools.

In order to meet the challenge ahead there is a need to incentivise tree planting with funding through a new environmental land management scheme. Action is also needed to tackle continued threats to woodland from infrastructure and growing threats from pests and diseases, as well as helping people to engage with trees wherever they live, whatever their background.

Sir William Worsley’s reappointment as the Government’s Tree Champion is a good sign for the continued commitment to woodland expansion and the importance it plays. The Trust echoes Sir William’s call to land owners, farmers and foresters across the country to take up the mantle of tree planting by accessing the Government’s grant schemes.

The Trust also welcomes the £10 million Urban Tree Challenge Fund which was announced last month and will see 130,000 urban trees planted across England’s towns and cities to attempt to increase trees in our towns and cities. Street trees are known to give many additional benefits including reducing pollution.

 

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

UK

New planting by forest type

       

 

Conifers

0.42

0.25

7.27

0.10

8.05

Broadleaves

1.00

0.27

3.94

0.14

5.35

All new planting

1.42

0.52

11.21

0.24

13.40

New planting by ownership

       

 

FC/FLS/NRW/FS1

0.03

0.00

1.03

0.00

1.06

Private sector2

1.39

0.52

10.19

0.24

12.34

All new planting

1.42

0.52

11.21

0.24

13.40

Source: Forestry Commission, Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales,

Forest Service, grant schemes.

         

 

New planting in the UK, 2009-2019

 
         

area (thousands of hectares)

Year

England

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

UK

2009

2.51

0.19

3.44

0.29

6.43

2010

2.29

0.22

2.72

0.21

5.44

2011

2.53

0.30

6.02

0.25

9.10

2012

2.67

0.76

9.03

0.31

12.76

2013

2.59

0.91

7.04

0.25

10.79

2014

3.34

0.93

8.33

0.29

12.89

2015

2.43

0.10

7.56

0.21

10.30

2016

0.82

0.14

4.63

0.05

5.65

2017

1.15

0.40

4.76

0.21

6.51

2018

1.50

0.24

7.14

0.21

9.09

2019

1.42

0.52

11.21

0.24

13.40

 

-Ends-

Notes to editors

Media enquiries should be directed to Steve Marsh on 01476 581121 or stevemarsh@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

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

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

*https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/provisional-woodland-statistics-2019-edition