Conservative manifesto pledges to hit 11 million trees target

18 May 2017

Confor has welcomed a commitment in the Conservative Party's election manifesto to honour its pledge of planting 11 million trees by 2020.

The previous Conservative administration had committed to planting 11 million trees between 2015 and 2020, but Confor calculated that it would be summer 2027 before the target was hit based on extremely low planting rates in 2015 and 2016. 

There were fears that the target could be dropped, but the Conservative manifesto, published today, says: "In addition to the 11 million trees we are planting across our nation, we will ensure that 1 million more are planted in our towns and cities, and place new duties on councils to consult when they wish to cut down street trees." 

Confor's Chief Executive Stuart Goodall said: "If Theresa May wins the election, we look forward to working with her government to meet the 11 million trees target by 2020. Confor has put forward a number of practical proposals in its own manifesto to drive up planting, including giving one agency, the Forestry Commission, responsibility for the targets - and reducing red tape which acts as a barrier to planting." 

The Confor manifesto also calls for the next Government to appoint a minister with forestry in their title, and to treat the sector fairly, with civil servants, agencies and politicians taking the time to understand the true face of modern forestry - and the many benefits it can deliver. The manifesto says a more effective forestry policy will: create rural jobs; tackle climate change; build new homes; reduce flood risks; and provide places for wildlife. 

Mr Goodall called for all political parties to link planting targets to policy goals. He said: "The  Conservative manifesto includes commitments to building 1.5 million new homes by 2022, increasing employment and enhancing flood protection. 

"Planting more trees can deliver on all these agendas - but there is no link between planting targets and policy, That needs to change." 

The other reference to forestry and woodland in the Conservative manifesto says: "We will continue to ensure that public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation, and provide stronger protections for our ancient woodland." 

Mr Goodall also welcomed the proposal for a 'Borderlands Growth Deal', including all councils on both sides of the border, to help secure prosperity in the region. He said: "Forestry is one of the biggest industries in the Borders area and working with MPs in northern England and southern Scotland, we will press for the Borderlands Growth Deal to build on the work of Roots to Prosperity and deliver significant new planting." 

The Labour manifesto for next month's general election only commits to plant one million trees in the lifetime of the new parliament, while the Liberal Democrats outlined a much more ambitious future, with around 65 million trees to be planted in a decade - three times the Conservative pledge to plant 11 million trees in five years.