In November 2021, the Environment Act was passed into law, kick-starting the process for Government to set legally binding targets for environmental priorities. These include targets for improving air and water quality, reducing waste and restoring wildlife - and there’s a proposed target for increasing tree cover too.

A need to go further

For nature and people to thrive, every target proposed must increase in its ambition. Together they must drive the co-ordinated and decisive action we need.

Increasing tree cover should go hand-in-hand with increasing nature. Native trees and woods are crucial havens for wildlife. More high quality, native tree cover is vital for helping nature recover from current declines. 

Native trees will help to:

  • drive the habitat creation that nature needs to recover from decades of decline
  • fight climate change by locking up carbon.

The current proposal is to increase England’s tree cover from 14.5% to 17.5% by 2050. But there is no defined plan to prioritise native species, critical for nature's recovery.

We can’t miss this opportunity. High quality native woodland expansion must stand at the heart of the UK’s environmental targets.

decline in UK woodland wildlife species
since 1970
increase in UK woodland in the last 20 years
that's about 290,000 hectares
213 million
tonnes of carbon
held in existing British woodlands

What does a quality target look like?

Woodland expansion and action for nature must be connected. We need an ambitious target which ensures woods are:

  • best for wildlife: at least 300,000 ha of all new trees and woods must be native to provide havens for hundreds of woodland species by 2050
  • well connected: expanding our existing woodland patches will connect and increase habitat sizes and boost their benefits.

By expanding tree cover and prioritising a target for native species like oak and rowan, we can have the biggest impact on helping nature to recover and tackling climate change. In towns and cities, tree cover should be increased in a way that maximises the benefits for people. We must expand, improve and protect them for generations to come.

Don’t leave woods and trees to chance

The Government’s proposal to increase tree cover is welcome. But the type and location of woodland is as important as the volume. Now is the time to ensure the legally binding tree target prioritises native trees. It must lead to decisive action for years - and governments - to come.

Please show your support for a native tree cover target by responding to the Government consultation on the proposed targets before 27 June 2022. Together we can apply the pressure needed to secure legal targets for increasing native tree cover.

Aerial view of Pepper Wood at sunset

Urge Government to set ambitious targets for nature

Help create a lasting commitment to woods and trees. Create change for our wildlife and climate.

Respond to the consultation