Confor starts 2020 with a bang

22 January 2020

Confor has hit the ground running in 2020, with national media coverage signalling its determination to press the new Conservative Government to deliver on the tree planting targets in its General Election manifesto.

Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO, was part of a Radio 4 PM programme feature (listen here until 5th February) about whether the planting target of 30,000 hectares of new woodland per year (by 2030) was achievable. 

He thought it was, but only with strong political leadership - and said his sights were on 40,000 hectares of new planting annually, the "ambitious but achievable" targets set by Confor in 2019.  Mr Goodall said it was important to clarify whether the Conservative planting target related to the UK as a whole or just to England - and how the 30,000 hectare target would relate to tree numbers. 

After the Conservatives won a clear majority in the December election, Confor  requested an early meeting with Zac Goldsmith, who remains as Forestry Minister, to discuss practical steps to start driving up planting - including how to push on with the Northumberland Forest announcement in September 2019. That meeting is scheduled to take place in early February.

"Previously Zac Goldsmith accepted my challenge to provide the strong political leadership required to deliver a step-change in planting and announced a new forest in Northumberland. Our aim will be to press for even greater urgency and a commitment to change the status quo and push up planting rates from their disappointingly low level," said Mr Goodall.  

"There was a welcome focus from all parties on tree planting during the election campaign (see Confor analysis here) and we must maintain the positive support shown for forestry," said Mr Goodall. "That is not just about pushing up planting, but managing existing woodland more effectively and using more home-grown timber, as laid out in Confor's own election manifesto

"The plans for enhanced planting in Northumberland will be a central part of any early discussions with the Government." 

Another early 2020 Confor priority is to revitalise the All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry, with a strong focus on tree planting targets. 

Confor will also continue to work closely with the SNP Government in Scotland, where more than 80 per cent of the UK's new woodland is being planted. "We were delighted when the SNP backed our ambitious planting targets during the election campaign - and will continue to stress the crucial role of forestry and wood in meeting tree planting targets as we work towards the vital COP26 summit in Glasgow at the end of 2020,"  said Mr Goodall.  Read his recent article in The Scotsman here.