The Woodland Trust is launching the UK’s largest mass tree planting campaign – urging the public to pick up their spades and take action on climate change. The Big Climate Fightback aims to get more than a million people to pledge to plant a tree on the run up to a mass day of planting across the UK on November 30.

The action has been sparked after the charity had to yet again call out the Government for failing to meet its annual tree planting commitments. In England just 1,420 hectares of woodland was created against the Government's aspirational target of 5,000 per year. This is despite its own Committee for Climate Change calling for dramatic increases to stand any chance of achieving net zero emissions by 2050*. It will require a three-fold increase in current woodland creation levels.

The Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig and TV presenter Clive Anderson are among the charity’s ambassadors lending their support to get people on board in pledging and planting.

Darren Moorcroft, chief executive at the Woodland Trust  said the campaign was in response to calls from the public to be given a practical way to tackle the UK’s tree planting crisis: “Most people are aware of the race against time in terms of climate change and planting trees being part of the solution – they absorb harmful CO2 and produce vital oxygen. But we are not planting anywhere near enough.

“The Big Climate Fightback is about inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds and providing the chance to take direct action – they have to simply go to our website and pledge to plant a tree, whether it’s in their back yard, neighbourhood, school or at a nearby planting event. It’s an easy way for people to do their individual bit for climate change as part of a mass movement.”

However, the charity is mindful of not confusing the message that trees are a ‘solve all‘ to the climate crisis. Darren continues:  “Established in 1972, we’re long standing advocates of the need for trees and this message is resonating with the public now more than ever before.  But we’re mindful too that the message of trees as a solution should not be confused as the sole answer to our climate crisis. As individuals we all need to do more, much more, to reduce our impact on the planet by cutting emissions and reducing pressure on resources."

Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig, a television broadcaster, producer and writer, urged people to pledge to plant. She said: “Climate change is a real threat and it affects us all. But there is the simplest of all solutions. It’s green and lovely - the humble tree. It eats CO2 for breakfast and makes all our lives better. And what’s more we can all do our bit to take action now and plant one. I will be pledging to plant a tree in the Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback and I urge people to get off their sofas (when they’ve watched their recording of Bake Off of course) and plant a tree. It’s very simple and you could be one in a million.”

Clive Anderson, television and radio presenter and president of the Woodland Trust, said: “Global warming isn’t something that might happen sometime in the future: it’s happening already. And we need to do something about it.

“Because technology created the problem, it’s often argued humanity can look to technology to deal with the threat of climate change. Surely, we can design a clever bit of kit or build some sort of machine to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store carbon out of harm’s way? Maybe, but of course that device already exists. It’s called a tree. Though to make a difference we need an awful lot of them – 1.5 billion trees, according to the Government’s Climate Change Committee, if we want to help the UK reach ‘net zero’ by 2050.

“So, let’s make this year the year we make a real difference. I’ll be doing my bit and I hope you’ll all be planting too.”

The Woodland Trust will be hosting planting days across the UK on November 30 – the focal event will be the Young People’s Forest in Mead, near Heanor in Derbyshire. 

The charity is bidding to plant a tree for every person in the UK by 2025. All the trees provided by the Woodland Trust will be UK sourced and grown native broadleaf varieties such as oak, birch and hawthorn.

Ways to get involved in the Big Climate Fightback:

  • People who work with young people are urged to inspire them to get involved and plant trees.
  • Businesses are urged to inspire employees to get involved.
  • Communities can influence landowners like local authorities to let them plant trees.
  • The public can attend planting events hosted by the Woodland Trust and its partners.
  • Everyone can use their networks and social media channels to spread the word - #EveryTreeCounts

For more information and to pledge to plant a tree visit: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/bigclimatefightback

Ends -

Notes to editors

For more details on this release contact Andy Bond on 0343 770 5795 or 07725 480434, or email andybond@woodlandtrust.org.uk

About the Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters.

The Trust has three key aims:  

i) to protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable

ii) to restore damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life

iii) to 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 28,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free.

 
UK tree planting at a glance

  • 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). For comparison, the European average is 38%. 
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that if the world wanted to limit the rise to 1.5C by 2050, an extra 1bn hectares (2.4bn acres) of trees would be needed.
  • The UK 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. To do this 50 million trees would need to go into the ground each year.
  • 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. 

Government tree planting statistics, snapshot below or found in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/provisional-woodland-statistics-2019-edition

 

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

 

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

Woodland Trust view on the state of tree planting in the UK

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.”