Increased tree planting must be at the heart of the green recovery

6 May 2020

Increased tree planting has been identified as a key plank of a green recovery from Covid-19 in a letter to the Prime Minister by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The letter, sent by Lord Deben, Chair of the CCC, official advisers to the UK Government on climate issues and Baroness Brown of Cambridge, Chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, sets out six key principles for a resilient recovery. 

It says there are “clear economic, social, and environmental benefits from immediate expansion of the following measures” - and includes tree planting in the list. 

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of forestry and wood processing industry body Confor, said:

“As a sector we welcome this important contribution from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and warmly welcome their inclusion of greater tree planting as an urgent action needed to ensure the whole of the UK has a resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic that also helps with the continuing fight against climate change. 

“A green recovery means stepping up efforts to tackle climate change while rebuilding the economy and supporting the perhaps millions who have or could lose their jobs due to the impacts of Covid-19 and the necessary lock-down. Planting more trees to produce more wood creates a virtuous cycle supporting green jobs, economic growth and meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions. 

“Most forestry activity and opportunities for further tree planting are in areas with relative high unemployment and which are likely to be hit hard by the economic downturn - offering a chance to rebalance the economy and meet the fairness principle that the CCC has highlighted.” 

Mr Goodall added: “Boris Johnson’s government has already committed to planting a new forest ‘the size of Birmingham’ across England, a contribution to the wider UK target to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland annually by 2025. The commitment of the Scottish Government goes even further promising to plant 36 million trees (about 18,000 hectares) of trees in Scotland annually by 2030.  

“In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and this fresh advice by CCC we need to consider urgently how to accelerate these programmes to provide new opportunities for workers suffering hardship as a result of economic downturn. Confor will work with DEFRA Ministers and the devolved Governments in the coming weeks to agree how we can ensure the important role that the forestry and wood processing sector can play in a green recovery is fully built into government’s emerging plans.” 

  • Read the letter Building a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis here