Emergency Tree Plan for the UK published

The Woodland Trust has published its Emergency Tree Plan outlining how the UK can rapidly increase tree cover to help reach net zero carbon emissions and tackle the declines in wildlife.

The first of its kind, the plan claims that the UK must design and fund an approach to woodland creation that addresses both the climate and nature crises together, with annual rates of woodland creation needing to be more than doubled, starting in 2020.

The report, titled Emergency Tree Plan for the UK, follows a General Election in which we saw major tree planting pledges from every political party. The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe with just 13 per cent tree cover compared to the European average of 37 per cent. And only seven per cent of this is native woodland.

In order to reach the target of 17-19 per cent tree cover recommended by the Independent Climate Change Committee, trees will need to be planted on an unprecedented scale, but the Woodland Trust stresses that the right trees in the right places are needed.

Darren Moorcroft, CEO of the Woodland Trust, said: “As the chief executive of the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity I’m acutely aware that we start 2020 with more woods under threat from destruction than any other time in history. Tree planting rates are the lowest in decades, and 1 in 10 wildlife and plant species is under threat from extinction. Disease and pests have taken hold and risk wiping out millions of our native trees. Never has the picture appeared bleaker.

“We’ve seen a lot of talk about trees and that is welcome but we’ve yet to see the action that is required. We’ve left ourselves a phenomenal amount to do in a very short space of time. The moment of crisis has come and action needs to be taken this year. Government needs bold policies and local authorities and landowners need the support to act swiftly and of a scale to expand tree cover across the UK. I can’t stress enough that we can’t be here, in the same position next year for all our sakes.”

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