Trees "must play key role" in tackling climate change

9 September 2019

Trees and woodlands must be at the forefront of Government thinking when tackling the climate emergency - and the time for action is now.  That was the message from a range of experts at the Confor Woodland Show at Longleat.

Guy Shrubsole, of Friends of the Earth, said at the event: “We need the Government to step up. We doubled forest cover in the last century and it’s time to re-discover that vision, and do that again to tackle the ecological and climate emergency.” 

The Confor Woodland Show focussed on how to increase forest cover significantly to make a real difference in charting the UK's path to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Confor’s Dr Eleanor Harris said: “These new woodlands will be delivering low carbon construction material by 2050. When we create new woodlands, we aren’t just planting trees, what we are really planting is optimism, hope and excitement. “ 

The Committee on Climate Change has called tree planting a "simple, low-cost option" to remove carbon from the atmosphere - part of a mounting body of evidence that says tree planting and timber construction must play a greater role in mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.

In England last year only 1,420 hectares of new woodland were created, 71 per cent short of the Government’s own target. 

Guy Shrubsole said: “We need more woods everywhere, on farms, hedges, in the urban fringe and more, better woodlands for a wide range of purposes.” 

Confor’s England Manager Caroline Ayre urged Defra to do more. She said: “We urgently need Defra to have a joined-up approach to supporting sustainable land use in England. The Forestry Commission needs to be a one-stop shop for woodland creation, and senior management need to be held responsible for delivering on Government targets.”

Banner image shows the speakers at the Confor Woodland Show main seminar on Woodland expansion, a solution for the climate emergency – (left to right) - Paul Nolan, Mersey Forest and the Northern Forest; Matt Taylor, Country Land and Business Association; Stuart Goodall, Confor; Julian Ohlsen, Tilhill Forestry; Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth; and Eleanor Harris, Confor.