Join the call for more decisive action on nature's recovery

22 April 2022

Last year, tens of thousands of people joined the campaign calling for a new target to halt nature’s decline in England by 2030. Government eventually listened and put the target into law. Now it's published its plans on how to meet that target - and they don't go far enough.

The plans currently focus on restructuring systems and institutions, but this alone won't suffice. We have just 8 years to stop nature’s free fall and need urgent, decisive action now.

To halt nature’s decline, every remaining ancient woodland needs to be safe. We must protect and restore all ancient woodlands across England by including them in a stronger, more effective network of legally designated wildlife sites that are effectively managed for nature.

Join us to call for decisive action to protect native woods and trees. Respond to the Government consultation by 11 May. 

Protecting trees and woods

Government’s nature recovery plans in England fall short

Government plans to halt nature’s decline in England by 2030 don't go far enough. We need more meaningful action to save our wildlife and environment.

Read more

Are your candidates committed to woods and trees?

20 April 2022

On 5 May 2022, local elections will take place across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of England. You can urge your candidates to protect irreplaceable habitats, increase tree canopy cover and defend our trees’ health by attending your local hustings. Hustings are a great opportunity to ask questions of your election candidates. Here are a few coming up:

  • Northern Ireland Environmental Link is hosting an Environmental Hustings on 21 April, 7-9pm on Zoom in advance of the Assembly Elections.
  • The Tower Hamlets Wheelers are hosting a Walking and Cycling Hustings on 21 April, 7-8.45pm at the Bernie Cameron Community Centre ahead of the Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election.
  • Ahead of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Election:
    • Hope for the Future and Green Alliance are hosting a Climate Hustings on 21 April, 6-7.30pm at Victoria Hall
    • Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and South Yorkshire Climate Alliance are hosting a Climate and Nature Hustings online on 25 April, 7-8.30pm.

Many more hustings are happening across the UK - search for them online or on social media.

Can't find a local hustings? Find out how to urge your candidates to stand up for woods and trees.

Protecting trees and woods

Election candidates need clear plans for woods and trees

Thank you for urging 2022 election candidates to recognise the value of woods and trees where you live.

Read more

Thank you for responding to the plant biosecurity consultation

14 April 2022

In autumn 2021, our campaign on Government’s Plant Biosecurity Strategy consultation called for Government to ensure:

  • high risk host plants are identified, and imports are quarantined or banned quickly to stop pests and diseases entering the wider countryside.
  • UK tree nurseries are supported with grants to reduce our reliance on risky imports, funded by a tariff on high-risk imports.
  • an ambitious communications plan is delivered to improve public awareness and help increase the demand for UK grown trees.

Government has just published a summary of responses to the consultation and of the 1,192 responses it received from the public, 1,047 were from Woodland Trust supporters. Thank you for your support. With your participation we are more likely to secure a positive future for woods and trees.

We are currently waiting for Government to release its updated strategy which will indicate if it has made the necessary changes to secure plants and wildlife from harmful organisms.

Read more

Join the canopy cover mapathon

7 April 2022

This Saturday 9 April, we are holding a ‘mapathon’ aiming to complete over two years of volunteer work mapping tree cover in urban areas.

Over 75% of local authorities have declared a climate emergency and setting tree and canopy cover targets has become a popular method for countering climate change. The map project, in partnership with Forest Research, aims to provide detailed insight into urban tree cover and will be used to analyse which towns and cities would benefit from urban tree planting or better tree management.

You can help by assessing tree cover near you on 9 April. Sign up for a one-hour introductory webinar to learn more about the project and canopy mapping tool we use. We’ll prepare you to carry out your own assessments (each one takes up to an hour) and help to complete the UK's most comprehensive map of urban canopy cover.

Find out more and register.

 

Call for your local candidates to stand for woods and trees  

30 March 2022

On 5 May 2022, thousands of candidates will stand in elections across the UK. All those hoping to succeed should have a plan to make sure everyone can easily access and enjoy the benefits of trees where they live.

We're asking candidates to commit to:  

  • protect irreplaceable habitats
  • increase tree canopy cover  
  • defend our trees’ health.  

Urge your mayoral and local candidates to join the call for better access to nature 

Hold Government to account on woods and trees

25 March 2022

The Environment Act kickstarted a process for the Government to set new environmental targets and we're calling for nature to be put at their heart.

A target for tree and woodland cover should accelerate efforts to combat climate change and nature’s decline. Native trees and woods are havens for the UK’s struggling wildlife. They are also essential for the long-term storage of carbon. 

We want a target that leads to woods which are:

  • best for wildlife. At least 300,000 hectares of all new trees and woods must be native to provide havens for hundreds of woodland species
  • well connected, expanding our existing woodland patches, connecting and increasing habitat sizes and their benefits.

We can't leave the quality of woodland creation to chance. Now’s the time to ensure that the legally binding tree target is watertight and focused on native trees, leading to decisive action which will last for years to come. Respond to the consultation now.

Protecting trees and woods

Support a target to increase tree cover and recover nature

We need well-connected woodlands, rich in native trees that fight climate change and help nature to recover.

Act now

Protect ancient woods and trees from HS2’s destruction

18 March 2022

In January 2022, the Environmental Statement for the Phase 2b Western Leg from Crewe to Manchester was released, detailing the impact of this phase of HS2 on ancient woods and veteran trees. Yet again, numerous irreplaceable habitats are affected. 

We can't stand by while the HS2 route threatens these precious habitats. More damage and destruction is not inevitable. Changing the route near Manchester Airport could save several sites and every hectare is worth fighting for. 

Free webinar: how to save a tree 

14 March 2022

Join us at 7pm on 16 March to learn how ordinary people are saving their local trees. 

Campaigners who have taken action for trees will share their experiences of what individuals and communities can do, as well as answer your questions on how to defend local trees and woods.

Register for the webinar now

Scotland protection proposals must be put into practice

24 February 2022

In 2020 alone, at least 274 of Scotland's irreplaceable ancient woods and trees were threatened with loss or damage from development. But the future could be brighter if Scottish Government plans go ahead to improve protection for these precious habitats. A consultation on its National Planning Framework (NPF4) and Scottish Planning Policy is open now and proposed changes could help prevent damage by development - but they are still just proposals.

Read more in a blog by Suzie Saunders from our Scotland team. Suzie explores the importance of ancient woods and trees in the climate and nature emergency, and what the NPF4 could mean for these irreplaceable environments.

We must seize this moment and ensure policy changes are retained in the final NPF4. Respond to the consultation before 31 March 2022.

Join the call for equal access to nature

21 February 2022

The Government’s plans for levelling up aim to create equal opportunity and quality of life for everyone across the UK. But this can only succeed if it includes levelling up tree cover and access to nature.

Across the UK, many communities can’t access nature-rich spaces from their homes, despite the growing evidence that nature is vital for mental health and wellbeing, and greatly improves living standards. Nature should be for everyone.

We’re working with Wildlife and Countryside Link to call on Government to make #Natureforeveryone. We have three key asks:

  1. Make equal access to nature a core test of levelling up
  2. Make it a legal requirement in levelling up legislation for developers and public bodies to provide access to nature-rich green spaces for everyone
  3. Provide funding for locally accessible nature-rich spaces by extending the Levelling Up Fund to green infrastructure projects.

Help ensure everyone has the equal right to nature. Sign our petition.

Have your say on the A27 Arundel bypass 

14 February 2022

In 2020 we reported that the A27 Arundel Bypass project will no longer directly impact any ancient woodland. However, the ‘grey route’ which has since been chosen will:

  • affect numerous ancient and veteran trees
  • have significant impacts on the wider landscape and implications for other important habitats and wildlife, such as bats.

National Highways is consulting on the preferred route proposals until 8 March, and we will be scrutinising the route in detail. Find out more about the consultation, and how you can take part.

Influencing policy in London 

10 February 2022 

Our team has been busy working with policymakers in Westminster in recent months. In December, we held a successful parliamentary reception at the Palace of Westminster with speakers including the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP. This resulted in conversations with policymakers and funders to build relationships and raise issues around the protection of woods and trees. Several MPs and attendees have since arranged visits to our sites. 

On 19 January, we returned to London for the latest APPG for Woods and Trees meeting. The group discussed some of 2021’s bigger moments for nature, woods, and trees and to assess the opportunities for 2022, including the forthcoming Nature Green Paper.

Find out more about the latest meeting and read the minutes.   

Vote for European Tree of the Year 

1 February 2022 

The winner of our UK Tree of the Year 2021 competition is now on the international stage in a Europe-wide competition. The defiant hawthorn tree guards the coastline in Kippford, Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway and is now in the running for European Tree of the Year 2022.  

First held in 2011, the competition is organised by the Environmental Partnership Association to find the trees with the most interesting stories in Europe.

Online voting runs throughout this month, closing on 28 February before a winner is announced in March. Cast your vote today!

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. 

HS2 Phase 2b - the latest developments

27 January 2022

On Monday the Government announced the publication of the Bill for Phase 2b of the HS2 rail project, stretching between Crewe and Manchester. We will be scrutinising the content of the bill and the accompanying Environmental Statement closely, with the support of expert ecological advice. Rest assured we'll be pressing hard for HS2 Ltd to avoid impacts on our precious ancient woodland and trees.  

UK Tree of the Year 2021 announced 

20 December 2021

The winner of the UK’s 2021 Tree of the Year competition is a lone hawthorn tree in Kippford, Dalbeattie in Dumfries & Galloway. The defiant hawthorn cuts an impressive presence as the only tree on a windswept cockleshell beach, standing alone as it guards the Scottish coastline.  

The competition, now in its seventh year, highlights how individual trees have huge significance for our landscapes, our lives and our fight against the climate and nature crises. The winning hawthorn tree will now go on to represent the UK in the European Tree of the Year 2022 contest.

Help support stronger planning policy to save Scotland’s ancient woods and trees

17 December 2021

The Scottish Government has opened a consultation on its National Planning Framework (NPF4) and Scottish Planning Policy. Proposed changes could help prevent precious ancient woods and veteran trees being damaged by development. This could be good news, but these are still just proposals.

Scotland's ancient woods and trees are unique and irreplaceable, but at least 274 of them were threatened with loss or damage from developments in 2020 alone. This can’t continue. The consultation, open until 31 March 2022, is a vital opportunity to improve their protection. Take action for Scotland's ancient trees and woods by responding today.

Ancient woods saved as HS2 scaled back

26 November 2021

Last week the Government announced it was scaling back plans for the Eastern leg of HS2. The move means that many ancient woodlands that were in the path of the route are now saved from damage and destruction.

This is good news for ancient woods like Nor Wood near Sheffield which now face a brighter future.

Yet HS2’s remaining route is still one of the biggest single causes of ancient woodland loss in the UK. We'll continue to campaign for all irreplaceable trees and woods still affected.  

Government has also committed to building a new high speed rail project connecting Manchester and West Yorkshire, known as Northern Powerhouse Rail. This project must not repeat the mistakes made by HS2, and we will be pressing Government to make sure that it doesn't result in further destruction of ancient woods and trees.

Celebrating the Charter for Trees, Woods and People

25 November 2021

During National Tree Week - 27 November to 5 December - people up and down the country will be celebrating trees and everything they do for us. The event also marks four years since the launch of the Tree Charter.

Since 2017, over 600 community groups have been making a huge impact for woods and trees in their local areas by supporting the Tree Charter Principles and bringing the Charter to life.

The 6th principle is ‘plan greener local landscapes' and this National Tree Week, we're co-hosting a  webinar with Treeconomics to help you map canopy cover in your neighbourhood. Hundreds of volunteers across the UK are already working together to identify local trees and see the benefits they're providing. Discover how you can get involved - register for the free webinar on Tuesday 30 November at 7pm.

Environment Bill receives royal assent

16 November 2021

Last week, the Environment Bill finally finished its progress through Parliament and became the first dedicated Environment Act in nearly thirty years.

Since the first draft was published in 2018, the hard work of many people, including many Woodland Trust supporters means the Act is much stronger than it would otherwise have been. Thank you.

Significantly, the voices of thousands of ordinary people helped secure a much needed legally binding target for halting species decline by 2030. And many of you helped to apply the pressure needed to achieve important new commitments from Government on reviewing and improving protection for ancient woods and trees.

With the Environment Act now firmly in the legislative books, work begins on ensuring that the principles, rules and processes it establishes drive real action for nature.

Thousands march for climate

8 November 2021

Over the weekend Woodland Trust staff and supporters were among thousands of people across the world who took to the streets as part of the Global Day of Action for COP26.

Thank you to everyone who joined us and called for trees, woods and all of nature to be at the heart of the action to tackle the climate emergency. 

And as part of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, we were honoured to support an event with indigenous leaders from the Amazon on Sunday. They performed a sacred blessing ritual at Cormonachan Community Woodlands in Argyll – part of Scotland’s very own temperate rainforest. The visitors from Association Jiboiana brought a message of living in harmony with nature and met with the local community, climate activists, politicians and young volunteers.

The marches and events, this weekend more than ever, show that people from all corners of the world are united in calling for urgent climate action. 

If you weren’t able to join us, you can still help fight climate change. Get involved with the Big Climate Fightback.

Scottish Government commits to restore and expand Scotland’s rainforest

5 November 2021

The Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest, of which Woodland Trust Scotland is a lead partner, has welcomed Scottish Government's commitment to restore and expand Scotland's rainforest. The commitment was made on the back of the international deforestation pledges at COP26, the UN climate conference, on 2 November.

Scotland's rainforest is a globally important habitat, on the west coast of Scotland. It's rich in wildlife, lichen and bryophyte species - some are not found elsewhere in the world. But the rainforest is under threat, with the best remaining habitats confined to less than 30,000 hectares. That's a mere fragment of its past extent. Urgent action is needed to save the rainforest and the Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest has estimated the cost of restoring the rainforest at £500m. We’re asking Scottish Government to commit to £250m over 10 years as a credible way to deliver rainforest action.

The Government's commitment is good news. But we need further detail on what this means and what funding is allocated to support urgent action for Scotland's rainforest, a natural solution to the climate emergency.

Youth letter urges climate action from PM

1 November 2021

The COP26 conference has officially begun in Glasgow, where world leaders will meet over the next two weeks to discuss the climate crisis. Key decisions on nature are being made in the coming days that will impact future generations to come.

This week, young people across the UK will be planting trees on the Global Day of Action during the conference. They will show world leaders we are willing to do everything in our power to protect nature.

Our youth representatives have written a letter to the Prime Minister, showcasing our actions, and asking this government to do everything in their power to protect nature. Read our letter:

Dear Prime Minister

On 6 November we, as young people of the UK, will be taking action on the climate emergency by planting trees across the UK as part of the Global Day of Action. We hope to demonstrate to world leaders at COP26 that mitigating climate change is our priority, and young people are motivated to do everything they can to limit warming below 1.5°C to protect our future. But we can only do so much - we need our leaders to do more.

We want to see the UK government demonstrate with action what you have committed to with words: by doing everything in your power to strengthen commitments to protect the UK’s woods and trees.

Not only do trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to mitigate climate change, they also provide habitats for wildlife, and play a vital role in supporting the physical and mental health of our communities. Trees play a key role in our towns and cities, helping to build resilience against climate change by reducing urban temperatures and reducing flood risk. We must sustain the fantastic benefits that existing mature trees in our landscapes bring to climate, people and wildlife in the UK.

If the UK is truly committed to limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C and to sustaining healthy and thriving environments, we need both a challenging UK target to increase canopy cover to 19% by 2050, and much stronger measures to protect the trees we already have and those we are now planting. Help us to ensure that the trees we plant today will not be felled tomorrow.

We cannot wait any longer for climate action. Young people recognise the sense of urgency, and we hope you will do the same by taking action to protect woods and trees at this year’s COP26 conference.

Yours sincerely, 

  • Hazel Mooney, Students for Trees
  • Sabaha Hussein, Young People's Forest
  • Emily Coffey, Raleigh International
  • Zara Holden, Woodland Trust
  • Celine Clark, Students Organising for Sustainability.

Government commits to better protect ancient woods and trees

22 October 2021

An amendment to the Environment Bill that would’ve given ancient woods and trees much needed legal protection was rejected on 20 October. But the Government did accept the need to act and has committed to a number of positive measures to start addressing the issue.

The commitments could deliver a step change for the protection of our oldest woods and trees – if meaningful and rapid action is taken to make these welcome commitments a reality. Commitments include:

  • a review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its implementation
  • a consultation on strengthening the wording in the NPPF on ancient woodland
  • requirement for local planning authorities to consult the Secretary of State if they want to grant planning permission for developments affecting ancient woodland.

The move comes after more than 5,000 of you asked your MPs to support the Lords’ amendment to the Bill. The Government simply couldn’t ignore the calls for greater protection for ancient woodland and trees. Massive thanks to everyone who spoke up.

Read our press release on Government's ancient woodland announcements for all the details.

July-September 2021

Influencing policy

After thousands of you campaigned with us, the SNP-Green Government committed to important actions for woods and trees, including:

  • setting targets for nature’s recovery in a Natural Environment Bill, to be introduced to Parliament in 2023-24
  • establishing extra funding and a national register for ancient woods
  • increasing easily accessible, sustainably managed woods in urban areas
  • boosting funding for projects including restoring and expanding Scotland’s rainforests.

We attended party conferences to talk to politicians about how trees can help tackle the climate and nature crises, and the need to plant, protect and restore more woods.

During Great Big Green Week (Climate Fringe Week in Scotland) 18-26 September, we encouraged a week of community action and events to show governments the UK wanted to see climate ambition and action at COP26.

Government published plans to improve the Environment Bill with a deadline to halt declines in species by 2030. This followed months of campaigning with more than 65 other charities. More than 200,000 people signed the petition - thank you. Your voices have been heard.

Standing up for woods and trees

Thank you to everyone who urged their MP to attend the HS2 debate in September and called for protection for ancient woodland along the HS2 route. It was a lively debate and environmental issues were one of the top concerns MPs mentioned.

Thousands of you objected to the destruction of up to 80% of young woodland at Grantham Barracks. Your words had impact and Homes England went back to the negotiating table.

You told Highways England how important ancient woodland is via our campaign when it launched another consultation on its Lower Thames Crossing project. The road scheme to connect Kent to Essex via a tunnel under the River Thames threatens several irreplaceable habitats.

April-June 2021

Celebrations

We welcomed the cancellation of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway in April. The Government cancelled the project as it was no longer 'cost effective', making 383 known ancient woods within 2km of the route corridor safe again. But the risks to nature from local road 'improvements' remain and action is needed on other development and infrastructure projects in the area. All future plans in the area must have the environment at their heart.

Influencing policy

Government published the England Trees Action Plan in May and committed to add a legally binding target for nature to the Environment Bill. We celebrated these announcements, though highlighted the need for follow-up action - read our response. We were then disappointed to see the promised Environment Bill amendment later fail to set a deadline for stopping nature’s free fall. The campaign for nature's recovery by 2030 continued.

You joined us in supporting Scottish Environment LINK’s campaign to call for legally binding targets for nature recovery in Scotland.

Elections for Welsh and Scottish Parliaments and England’s mayoral city regions took place on 6 May. Ahead of the big day, you joined us in droves to urge candidates to put native woods and trees at the heart of their campaigns.

Standing up for woods and trees

In June you helped us call on Homes England to review its plans for a new housing development in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The proposals threatened nearly 60 hectares of young woodland planted just 10 years ago.

We launched our ground-breaking State of UK Woods and Trees 2021 report in April. It’s the first report of its kind laying out the facts and trends on the current state of our native woods and trees. The evidence is clear: we need to take urgent action in all corners of the UK.

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.

Six ancient woods near Cardiff are safe after M4-A48 link road plans were shelved. The project lost funding from the Welsh government under the Llwybr Newydd Transport Strategy as it didn't meet new criteria.

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.

Explore our earlier successes and current campaigns