The Woodland Trust will challenge councils to bring back nature to the places we live as councillors and officers converge on the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference in Bournemouth on 4 July 2023.

The charity will present its new report - Trees and Woods at the Heart of Nature Recovery in England - to delegates which sets out a raft of solutions, including adding more trees into housing estates with less than 16% tree cover, 30% canopy cover for new developments, and access to greenspace within 10 minutes of everyone’s doorsteps. To coincide with the launch, the Trust is urging people to back its campaign calling on councillors to take urgent action for nature.

The report, designed to help councils and communities write their Local Nature Recovery Strategies, follows the Government’s announcement on Friday that is has made £14m available to the 48 local authorities tasked with leading on drafting the plans.

Ecologist Louise Wilkinson, Nature Recovery Lead at the Woodland Trust who co-authored the report, said:

“We recognise the enormous strain on local authority budgets and wrote this report to offer a helping hand on how to surmount the challenge of rapid declines in nature. This year the Government handed local authorities the task of involving communities in writing Local Nature Recovery Strategies. This is a golden chance for communities to map out what they want to see, where to bring nature back, and crucially, to embed this in local policy. It’s a tough task so we have published the top steps that should be incorporated.”

Since 1970, 35% of species have declined in abundance. This means today’s children now have a 70% less chance of seeing a hedgehog than their parents did, while dormice populations have fallen 48% since today’s primary school pupils were born. The proportion of urban green space is also declining.

Responsibility to turn the tide rests with local authorities as well as national government. As part of the 2021 Environment Act, the Government is tasking designated local authorities to develop Local Nature Recovery Strategies bespoke to their areas – an action required by law. These plans are designed to be easy to grasp and are geared to reflect the views of local people on where they want to see areas of nature-rich space for public use.

Darren Moorcroft, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, explained why trees are vital:

“Trees and woods are critical in creating better, healthier places for people to live and all communities should have access to these benefits. As well as driving nature’s return, tree numbers correlate to improving people’s health and well-being – something that’s being increasingly recognised by leaders across the globe. This is why our report calls for councils to ensure more trees on new and existing housing estates as well as improved access to woodland, so that trees and woods can benefit their residents and nature alike.”

To help ensure these plans are placed high on agendas, the Woodland Trust is asking people to contact their local authorities via its campaign website. The e-action will demand that local authorities declare a nature crisis. It is estimated that while 80% of councils have declared a climate emergency, fewer than 15% that have declared a nature crisis.

Dr Moorcroft, continues:

“ We have launched our campaign that takes two clicks to let your local authority know you want it to declare a nature emergency. We know many people feel unheard but we’re asking them not to underestimate the power of lending their weight to campaigns that challenge elected politicians to listen. Our report is focussed on solutions, not panic. There are answers to the crisis we face. We just need action – and it can be done.”

To contact your council and back the e-action, visit our campaign page.

Read the Nature Recovery Report in full.

Notes to editors

For more information please contact the Woodland Trust press office: 0330 333 5313 or email:

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.

Local Nature Recovery Strategy areas and responsible authorities

North of Tyne - North of Tyne Combined Authority
Cumbria - Westmorland and Furness Council
County Durham - Durham County Council
South of Tyne and Wear - Gateshead Council
Tees Valley - Tees Valley Mayoral Combined Authority
Lancashire - Lancashire County Council
North Yorkshire and York - North Yorkshire Council
West Yorkshire - West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Hull and East Yorkshire - East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Liverpool City Region - Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
Greater Manchester - Greater Manchester Combined Authority
South Yorkshire - South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority
Cheshire- Cheshire West and Chester Council
Derbyshire- Derbyshire County Council
Nottinghamshire and Nottingham - Nottinghamshire County Council
Greater Lincolnshire - Lincolnshire County Council
Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin - Shropshire County Council
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent- Staffordshire County Council
Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland - Leicestershire County Council
Herefordshire - Herefordshire Council
Worcestershire - Worcestershire County Council
West Midlands - West Midlands Combined Authority
Warwickshire - Warwickshire County Council 2
West Northamptonshire - West Northamptonshire Council
North Northamptonshire - North Northamptonshire Council
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority
Norfolk - Norfolk County Council
Suffolk - Suffolk County Council
Gloucestershire - Gloucestershire County Council
Oxfordshire - Oxfordshire County Council
Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes - Buckinghamshire Council
Bedfordshire - Central Bedfordshire Council
Hertfordshire - Hertfordshire County Council
Greater Essex - Essex County Council
West of England - West of England Combined Authority
Wiltshire and Sw indon - Wiltshire Council
Berkshire - Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council
Surrey - Surrey County Council
Greater London - Greater London Authority
Kent and Medway - Kent County Council
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - Cornwall Council
Devon - Devon County Council
Somerset - Somerset Council
Dorset - Dorset Council
Hampshire - Hampshire County Council
Isle of Wight - Isle of Wight Council
West Sussex - West Sussex County Council
East Sussex and Brighton & Hove - East Sussex County Council