Britain needs to double its rate of tree planting

Britain needs to double its rate of tree planting to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, conservationists warn

  • Each country in UK needs 19 per cent of its land covered by trees in 30 years
  • As it stands, the UK has one of the lowest levels of tree cover in Europe
  • An extra 3.7million acres of woodland will have to be planted across Britain 

Britain must double the area of new woodland it plants annually from this year in order to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, conservationists have warned.

Each country in the UK must set new annual targets to ensure that 19 per cent of its land is covered by trees and woodlands within 30 years, says The Woodland Trust.

It is hoped that by introducing what the charity has called an emergency tree plan, planting rates will improve. As it stands, the UK has one of the lowest levels of tree cover in Europe – 13 per cent compared with a European average of 37 per cent.

Each country in the UK must set new annual targets to ensure that 19 per cent of its land is covered by trees and woodlands within 30 years, says The Woodland Trust

The charity today urges government and local councils to publish an emergency tree plan which would help identify where new trees could be planted and to help set annual expansion targets.

The Woodland Trust calls for all new council developments to have a minimum of 30 per cent of their land covered with tree canopy – either by keeping existing mature trees or by planting street trees and creating woodland made of native, UK-sourced species.

The Daily Mail has campaigned for a big increase in tree cover as part of the Be A Tree Angel campaign organised with the Tree Council, of which the Woodland Trust is a member. 

This newspaper has encouraged readers to plant trees and for businesses to pledge cash towards orchards for schools across the UK.

The 19 per cent target has been set by the Government’s Climate Change Committee to ensure that the UK cuts its greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Trees capture and store carbon.

To achieve the target, an extra 3.7million acres of woodland will have to be planted across Britain. 

There needs to be an increase from the 33,087 acres planted in 2018/2019 across the UK, to about 86,487 acres a year up to 2025, and then an even bigger boost to meet the 2050 goal, the Woodland Trust says.

Chief executive Dr Darren Moorcroft said: ‘The moment of crisis has come and action needs to be taken this year.’

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