The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity is today announcing a pledge to plant 50 million trees by 2025 to help tackle climate change.

The Woodland Trust is sending more than 600,000 free trees to community groups and schools in the next few weeks and is backing up this commitment to tackling climate change with an initial Emergency Tree Fund of up to £1m to help local authorities plant trees and create woods.

In addition the charity is urging the nation to join it by launching The Big Climate Fightback. It is calling on millions of people to plant trees throughout November – building support to sustain the biggest mass planting campaign the country has ever seen over the next few years.

Covid-hit 2020 has been a tough year for so many, not least in woodland conservation where UK tree planting is down (by 30% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 2019) and with more challenges on communities to get out to plant in large numbers.

All this despite the desperate need for more trees in the ground to fight climate change. Last year the Government committed to plant 50 million trees each year until 2050 to achieve net zero carbon. Now is the time to turn words into action.

The Trust’s CEO Darren Moorcroft wants the Trust to continue to lead by example and is urging others to also demonstrate their commitment with action.

Dr Moorcroft said:

“A year on from many big promises and statements about the need for more trees in order to achieve carbon net zero by 2050, they mainly remain just that: words.

“2019 saw the Woodland Trust plant more than four million trees. It was a great achievement but even that is well below what is needed in the UK to meet climate change targets.

“Today I outline our commitment to establish 50 million trees by 2025 to achieve our ten year aim of a tree for everyone in the UK. This would more than double our most successful year ever and states our ambition to plant 10 million trees a year to 2025 and further, 20% of the entire UK yearly target as set out by the Government.

“Our new Emergency Tree Fund is another bold step to achieving our tree planting aim – by offering local authorities an opportunity to get on board and join The Big Climate Fightback. But we will require people from across all sections of society to help us achieve our ambition and today we start to mobilise that army.

“Our role in tackling the climate crisis won’t rest - we know the clock is ticking and we must act now. Trees are nature’s most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change. Together we can achieve remarkable things and I ask people today, please do your bit, join our climate change army, plant a tree in November, use your voice for trees and woods, support our cause and help us to continue our collective Big Climate Fightback.”

The Emergency Tree Fund will be initially offered to 12 local authorities as part of a pilot and if successful could be rolled out further.

In the Big Climate Fightback 2020, which is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, people are urged to plant trees but if they can’t do that then one of a series of actions, including lobbying their local politicians on green issues, donating money to the campaign, or sharing their support across social media platforms.

A host of celebrities have already given their backing for the 2020 campaign, including Woodland Trust President and presenter Clive Anderson, JLS singer, presenter and farmer JB Gill, former Coronation Street actress Debra Stephenson, former Game Of Thrones actress Bella Ramsey and former Doctor Who and current The Great actress Charity Wakefield.

Charity said:

“I couldn't be more excited to help spread the word about the Woodland Trust’s aim to plant millions of trees. Climate change affects all of us and I think we are all beginning to recognise that it is everyone’s responsibility to help our environment repair and regrow. 2020 has been such a tough year for us all, but I know so many people, myself included, have found solace in reconnecting with nature. I am so happy we can provide a way to put that connection into action, and by planting a tree in the Big Climate Fightback give people the chance to get outside and do something really positive. It's a wonderful thing to do, especially in the autumn and winter.”

Trees are seen as nature’s answer to climate change – they soak up carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen.

For more on the Big Climate Fightback 2020, visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/bigclimatefightback and follow the campaign online #BigClimateFightback

Notes to editors

For more on this release contact Andy Bond on 07725480434.

About the Woodland Trust

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:  

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. 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 approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

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