Government target for nature falls short

11 June 2021

This week the Government published the details of a new target for nature. It follows last month’s promise of a legally-binding target to halt the declines in nature we are seeing across England.

But the details, seen for the first time this week, fall short. The amendment to the Environment Bill fails to set a deadline for stopping nature’s free fall and instead aims to ‘further the objective’ of halting the declines.

This wording is important, and it’s not good enough. We must demand better. Sign the petition to call for nature's recovery by 2030. 

Scotland’s nature needs you

24 May 2021

Help us secure a new legally binding target for recovering Scotland’s nature. Tell the new Minister for the Environment, Màiri McAllan, why nature matters to you.

Scotland’s nature is unique and special. It plays an essential role in all of our lives, boosting health and wellbeing, cleaning our air and water and underpinning thousands of jobs. But nature is in trouble and it needs your help.

In Scotland, one in nine species is at risk of extinction and only 3% of native woodland is in good overall condition. We need legally binding targets for nature recovery in Scotland to change this and help nature recover and thrive.  

That’s why we’re supporting Scottish Environment LINK to show the new Environment Minister why nature matters. Join us by visiting https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/action to send your message to Màiri McAllan. 

Government announcements are great news for nature

19 May 2021

Government made two important announcements yesterday. As well as publishing the new England Trees Action Plan, it will amend the long-awaited Environment Bill to include a new legally binding target for nature.

These are both enormous steps forward, but action on the ground must follow. Read our response and see how you can help keep up the pressure for change.


Don't miss opportunity to prioritise woods and trees this election

28 April 2021

The elections that will decide who will make up the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments and who will be Mayor in eight city regions are just one week away.

Every individual elected will have the power to set us on the right trajectory to tackle the climate and nature crises. Woods and trees are vital to address these crises and must be a priority for candidates.

Already we’ve seen many parties committing to ambitious policies for woods and trees. In the last few days before polls open on 6 May, we must push harder than ever for all parties and candidates to put native woods and trees at the heart of their campaigns.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or the following English mayoral city regions, email your candidates today!

  • Cambridgeshire
  • Greater Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Tees Valley
  • West of England
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway cancelled

19 April 2021

We welcome the announcement that the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has been cancelled. For now, 383 known ancient woods within 2km of the expressway route corridor are safe again.

The Government cancelled the project as it was no longer 'cost effective'. Working with the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, we have long opposed the plans due to the potential environmental damage. It's disappointing that this wasn't acknowledged as a reason for the cancellation. We need to address and tackle the nature and climate emergencies. We can’t afford for the environment to play second fiddle to the economy any longer.

The expressway's cancellation is a big win, but the risks to nature from local road 'improvements' remain. They include plans for the A34 west of Oxford which could impact important sites for nature.

Action is needed on other development and infrastructure projects across the Growth Arc area too. We need to electrify the rail link and avoid damage to irreplaceable habitats.

There are important lessons to learn from the Expressway’s failure. Most importantly, all future plans for the Arc must have the environment at their heart.

Look out for an update on the current East West Rail route consultation soon.

Ground-breaking State of UK Woods and Tree report launched  

14 April 2021

We are delighted to launch our State of UK Woods and Trees 2021 report. It’s the first report of its kind laying out the facts and trends on the current state of the UK's native woods and trees.  

It includes a wealth of data on the current state of our woodlands. The evidence is clear: we need to take urgent action in all corners of the UK. 

Having a clear picture of the current state of our woodlands will help us to better understand their vital role in:

  • tackling climate change
  • improving our wellbeing
  • recovering nature.

Read the report’s key findings and priority actions

State of UK woods and trees

State of UK woods and trees

The State of the UK’s Woods and Trees report is the first of its kind focused on the UK's native woods and trees. It outlines their current extent, condition and wildlife value, benefits, threats and what is being done to help them.

See the story at a glance

Ancient woods saved from M4/A48 link road proposals

8 April 2021

Precious ancient woodlands and their wildlife are now safe from the threat of the M4 to A48 link road outside Cardiff.

In December 2020, many of you joined our campaign to reject four potential road options posed by Vale of Glamorgan Council. Their aim was to ease congestion and help future growth in the region, but the route options were a threat to seven irreplaceable ancient woods.

The Welsh Government has now decided not to fund the project under the new Wales Transport Strategy, Llwybr Newydd. The council will no longer pursue the link road plans, meaning all seven ancient woods are safe once more.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our campaign to protect these irreplaceable ancient woodlands. Special thanks to Vale Communities for Future Generations, the local community group that supported our campaign.

January-March 2021

Celebrations

The scrapping of two controversial road schemes - Hereford Southern Link Road and the preferred western bypass route - saved several ancient woods and trees from damage and destruction. We're grateful to local campaigners who stood beside us to save them, and to the county council for the decision. Plans for an eastern bypass remain on the table - we'll be keeping a close eye on progress.

Influencing policy

Alongside many other organisations, we began campaigning for the upcoming Environment Bill to include a legally binding target for nature’s recovery. You joined us in urging MPs to attend the 26 January debate on the bill, and to support the amendment to put nature’s recovery into law. And thousands of you signed the petition calling for the bill to be as strong as possible. After the debate, Government announced a disappointing further delay to the bill. 

The latest on HS2 

In January, it was confirmed that HS2 Ltd must produce an annual report of its impact on ancient woodland. This was a result of our chair, Baroness Young, tabling an amendment to the HS2 Phase 2a Bill. The reporting will cover the whole HS2 route.

The HS2 Phase 2a Bill received royal assent in parliament in February, allowing works to begin on the project’s second phase. 

We kept up the fight to hold HS2 Ltd to account for its actions and prevent further unacceptable treatment of irreplaceable habitats and will continue to do so.

Protecting trees and woods

HS2 rail link

HS2 is a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. We can’t let this happen. 

Read the latest

October-December 2020

Quick fact

In 2020 we campaigned to defend ancient woods and trees in more than 280 cases.

Fighting for ancient woods

A proposed link road between the M4 and A48 near Cardiff threatens six ancient woods. The Vale of Glamorgan Council held a public consultation on potential routes, but every one impacts the woods. The consultation closed in December - we'll keep you up to date on developments and keep fighting to save these woods.

After we opposed the proposed A62/A644 Link Road in West Yorkshire in 2019, the plans have now gone back to the drawing board due to the impact on ancient woodland. We're grateful to local campaigners who raised the alarm and worked with us to make councillors take notice of our concerns. The woods aren't safe yet, but we’ll be watching progress to make sure ancient woodland stays safe.

Thousands of you supported our campaign for the A27 Arundel bypass to avoid ancient woodland, and your voices were heard. After four long years, the chosen route won't destroy any ancient woodland, although it will result in loss and damage of veteran trees, so still causes a net loss to the environment.

Celebrations

We announced the Tree of the Year 2020 winners in England, Wales and Scotland. Vote for Scotland’s Survivor Tree to be crowned European Tree of the Year.

Street tree campaigners were celebrating after Northampton Borough Council agreed to improve its tree policy. Supported by our street trees team, residents worked with the council to find affordable solutions for local trees.

Sheffield City Council issued an apology to the public after the Local Government Ombudsman published its report on the fellings. For eight years, we've worked with all those involved and after positive recent developments, including a new tree strategy, we welcomed the report and the apology.

Influencing policy

The Agriculture Bill became law in November. Ambition in the policy must now turn into action on the ground and we’ll continue to influence Government to make sure schemes support tree planting and natural regeneration.

More than 3,000 of you took part in our England Tree Strategy campaign in summer 2020, calling for strong targets to tackle climate change with woods and trees. We presented your comments to the minister responsible, Zac Goldsmith. Watch his response. Now we await a strategy to drive real change - it’s expected this spring. 

The Big Climate Fightback aims to establish 50 million trees over the next five years. With a campaign for each nation of the UK, you joined us in urging all four governments to increase native tree cover to fight climate change.

We supported Scottish Environment Link's Fight for Scotland’s Nature campaign, calling for stronger post-Brexit legislation to ensure the country’s nature was not put at risk. Thousands signed the petition and while we succeeded in achieving improvements to the bill, gaps still remain. Read more about the ongoing Fight for Scotland's Nature.

An overhaul of England’s planning system threatens woods and trees and your ability to defend them. Over 9,600 of you responded to the public consultation through our campaign, asking for woods and trees to be given greater protections. Ask your MP to press for our proposals to be included in any changes to the planning system. 

Did you know?

We've been defending ancient woods and trees from HS2 for over a decade. We won't give up the fight for these irreplaceable habitats.

The latest on HS2

Baroness Barbara Young, chair of the Woodland Trust, tabled two amendments to the High Speed Rail Phase 2a (West-Midlands to Crewe) Bill in the House of Lords. One of those would have required HS2 to report on impacts to ancient woods every six months. In response, the Government tabled amendment 13 which was passed. While the amendment will see reporting only take place once a year, we are pleased that it will cover the whole of the HS2 route, not only Phase 2a.

As at least 20 areas of ancient woodland were set to be destroyed by HS2 in autumn 2020, HS2 already had already committed a catalogue of errors. We're pressing the Department of Transport to hold HS2 accountable for its actions, and prevent further unacceptable treatment of irreplaceable habitat.

July-September 2020

Ancient woods saved

Several ancient woods were saved from Eastleigh Borough Council’s development proposals, including our Upper Barn & Crowdhill Copses after successful campaigning by local residents, support from Mims Davies MP and our own objections.

Influencing policy

Thanks to your emails to MPs, 19 attendees were at the September All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss the England Tree Strategy and proposed changes to the planning system.

As a proud member of the Climate Coalition, we supported its six key asks of the Government ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review. You joined us in sending a message to the Chancellor we want a cleaner, greener future at the centre of public spending.

We hosted a talk on urban trees as part of the National Association for Local Council’s Rebuilding Communities webinar series. Nearly 100 local councils attended to discuss how to put trees at the heart of communities.

The latest on HS2

Chris Packham took his legal fight against HS2 to the Court of Appeal in July. Our expert Luci Ryan helped to shape his evidence on how the scheme impacts ancient woodland. Three leading judges heard the evidence but the Court of Appeal later rejected the case. The judges said they gave their decision only 'light scrutiny, as it was a government decision'.

Luci also gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on HS2 Phase 2a and asked for assurances on aspects of the project. We submitted a petition – a huge evidence report - to HS2 Ltd in August 2019, but after it was unable to offer assurances on some of our concerns, we were able to present them to the House of Lords Select Committee in September. The Committee published its report, asking HS2 Ltd to look again at sourcing UK and Irish sourced and grown trees. Watch Luci give evidence on Parliamentlive.tv.

April-June 2020

Fighting for ancient woods

More than 3,400 of you joined our Lower Thames Crossing campaign to tell Highways England that damaging irreplaceable habitats for this new road tunnel is unacceptable.

Work began along Phase 1 of HS2. The first ancient woods were chopped down in Warwickshire during breeding season, going against all standard working practices. We continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes to push Government to monitor HS2’s contractors and investigate any breaches and wildlife crimes.

Influencing policy

After many of you encouraged your local councils to talk to us about responding to the climate crisis with woods and trees, we began working with an extra 43 councils to create a plan for each of their areas.

The Time is Now virtual lobby brought over 14,000 people together with 200+ MPs to talk about a healthy, green and fair recovery after coronavirus. What is a green recovery? Read our blog.

The Oxford to Cambridge Growth Arc is a plan to build up to a million new homes, a railway and roads. We worked with other leading nature conservation organisations to release our Nature’s Arc principles, calling on government and decision makers to put nature at the heart of development.

January-March 2020

Quick fact

Smithy Wood, the first wood we saved in 2020, has history dating back at least 850 years.

Celebrations

Service station plans threatening ancient Smithy Wood, by the M1 north of Sheffield, were withdrawn. You made this victory possible after campaigning with us for six long years to pressure the council and developers.

Walsall Volunteer Tree Wardens, councillors and schoolchildren planted 35 young trees in Pelsall, supported by our street trees team.

We took part in The Climate Coalition’s annual Show the Love campaign which aims to spark conversations about climate change among our peers and politicians.

The results of the annual European Tree of the Year competition were revealed on 17 March. The UK entry, Liverpool’s Allerton Oak, placed seventh with an impressive 16,449 votes.

Influencing policy

We launched the Emergency Tree Plan to Government, media and supporters - our vision for how the UK can increase tree cover and help tackle both the nature and climate crises. You joined us in droves to push for Government action on climate change.

After more than 1,800 of you encouraged your representatives to attend our All-Party Parliamentary Group on woods and trees, we met with a record 24 parliamentarians to discuss our Emergency Tree Plan. 

Explore our earlier successes and current campaigns