“The new £640m Nature for Climate fund will increase tree planting in England.
The government would work with the Devolved Administrations to triple UK tree-planting rates to 30,000 hectares every year – space for at least 30 million more trees – in line with recommendations from the independent Committee on Climate Change.
Existing woodland like the Northern Forest and Northumberland Forest would be expanded, new forests would be created across the country. Towns and cities would also benefit with more trees planted in urban areas to improve air quality.
The Nature for Climate Fund will be used to dramatically increase rates of tree-planting in England with more research into the most appropriate species to plant across the country, a scaling up the nursery sector to grow the saplings, new partnerships with landowners, and increased planting rates on sites.
Tripling tree planting rates to 30,000 hectares a year [75,000 acres] across the UK – equivalent to 46,000 football pitches.
The Government would accept the independent Climate Change Committee’s recommendation to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares a year and work with Devolved Administrations to achieve this goal. This will deliver new forests across the country, while expanding existing plans like the Northern Forest and Northumberland Forest."
We welcome the greater ambition, but much more needs to be done to ensure these challenging targets are actually met - especially given the failure to reach the modest target of 11 million trees in five years set by the previous Conservative government. The status quo has to change and that will require strong political leadership - if not, Vote Blue, Go Green is meaningless.
It is heartening the manifesto mentions scaling up the nursery sector and forging partnerships with landowners as regional partnerships are crucial to growing new forests at scale across England. The reference to working with the devolved administrations is interesting and England needs to learn from the positive experience of increased planting in Scotland. Indeed, England needs a Mackinnon-style review of processes (which helped turbo-charge planting in Scotland) to ‘get tree planting done’ - or we risk five more years of dither and delay.