Parliamentary group shines light on Government planting targets

10 December 2020

Strong political will is crucial to meeting the UK's ambitious tree planting targets, according to the architect of Scotland's success in driving up new woodland creation.

Jim Mackinnon CBE carried out a review of planting applications and approvals in 2016, when just over 4500 hectares of new woodland creation was happening annually in Scotland. That has increased to more than 11,000 hectares in each of the last two years. Mr Mackinnon spoke at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry and Tree Planting, which discussed if UK Government planting targets are achievable. [Watch here:]

The UK Government wants to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year across the UK by 2025. Now, under 14,000 hectares are being planted, 80% in Scotland. Edward Barker, Director for Natural Environment, Trees and Landscapes at Defra, admitted it was a "steep path" but said: "I think we are off to a good start."

Richard Greenhous, Director of Forest Services at Forestry Commission (FC), said: "It's a very steep trajectory, it's challenging - but I have every confidence the programme we have put together gives us the best chance of achieving that target." Steph Rhodes, FC Delivery Director for the England Tree Planting Programme, said a key factor was "improved grants, improved regulations and improved guidance" to those wanting to plant trees on private land "to make the experience of deciding to do it, and creating woodland, an easier one".