Defra’s long-awaited consultation on the Government Tree Strategy for England has been published.
Commenting on the report, CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “We welcome Government’s plans to plant 30,000 hectares of trees per year in the UK by 2025.
“Delivering this ambition will require a long-term plan for ramping up the whole woodland economy in England, including investment in the nursery stocks, skills and infrastructure needed to increase planting in the years ahead. This is a great opportunity, which should be seized as part of a sustainable economic recovery plan. As well as providing timber and wood products, forestry and woodlands deliver a range of public benefits depending on location and type, including locking up carbon, biodiversity, water regulation and health and well-being.
“In recent decades, the grants and incentives for woodland creation have simply not been sufficient to overcome the barriers to new planting. As a result, UK woodland creation has averaged around 10,000 hectares annually for the past 15 years, but most of this has been in Scotland. Only 1,400ha was planted in England in 2019, so it’s imperative we up our game.”
“For smaller-scale planting and woodland maintenance, Defra’s Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is an opportunity to get this right – properly designed it can provide incentives that actually deliver more trees and woodland on farms.
“Ultimately, Government should work with farmers and land managers to ensure the right trees are planted in the right place, whilst ensuring the right support is provided to develop a woodland economy that will create new markets and rural jobs and help with the ‘Green recovery’ post Covid-19.”