Yesterday, the government announced that £60m will be made available in order to plant more trees across England. This figure includes £10m for planting more street and urban trees with funding matched by financial contributions and assistance from local authorities, community groups and charities.
The balance of £50 million has been designated to buy carbon credits from landowners who plant qualifying woodland as part of what the government billed as it’s “drive to preserve the country’s greenery.” The Treasury says this will provide for an estimated 10 million new trees over the next 30 years.
The budget is also expected to approve a study into a new “Great Thames Park” in the Thames Estuary which experts have said could be ready by 2020.
Tilhill Forestry’s Business Development Director Peter Whitfield said of the news:
“Whilst spending money on trees has got to be good news, as ever you need to look behind the headlines. In reality it is £50 million over 30 years for carbon credits for landowners planting trees. So the reality is that this is about 130 hectares of trees a year for 30 years, a drop in the ocean that will not meet the new planting targets needed to combat climate change and increase the 10% forest cover in England.”
Forestry Director Tim Liddon added:
“Another important message to take from this news is that this is the first time for many years that forestry has even figured in the Budget. The fact that it now has, and is also part of the budget headlines, must be viewed as being a positive step in the right direction.
“However, we have an urgent need to deliver more new planting right now and the Forestry Commission needs to fight hard for new planting and appropriate land use change for all our sakes.
“The shackles need removing, the micro management to be withdrawn and the Forestry Commission to be less risk averse. We have a unique opportunity to plant more trees to capture carbon, and to provide timber – a fantastic and flexible renewable resource.”
England’s tree-planting record is behind other European countries and woefully behind that of Scotland. About 1.6 million trees were planted in England with the governments support in the 17/18 financial year, covering 895 ha. Whilst Scotland planted 7,100 ha in the same period.
The mix of species to be planted under the new funding announcement will be decided at a later date.