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Government branches out to create tree strategy

Words: Laura Edgar
Horse Chestnut Tree / iStock: 183876670

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is consulting interested parties on how to ‘accelerate’ tree planting and improve the management of existing trees and woodlands – the results of which will inform an England Tree Strategy.

The strategy, which to be subject to consultation itself, would set out policies that seek to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodland. 

In the 2020 Budget, the government outlined its commitment to planting 30,000 hectares of trees each year by 2025 across the UK. The tree strategy intends to contribute to delivering this. The England Tree Strategy will help to inform how elements of the £640 million Nature for Climate Fund will be used – this was also announced in the Budget.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks and the government wants to hear from farmers, foresters, land managers, environmental organisations and the public. It will ask: 

  • How to expand, protect and improve public and private trees and woodlands;
  • For views on the increase role that and woodlands can plan in supporting the economy;
  • How to best further connect people to nature; and
  • The most effective way that trees, forests and woodlands can be created and managed to combat the climate crisis.

Forestry minister Lord Goldsmith said: “In many ways the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the importance of nature. Growing and protecting our nation’s forests will be an integral part of our recovery, and the England Tree Strategy will give us the tools to do this.

“This consultation will help inform a keystone strategy, which will be vital for helping us deliver the government’s tree planting commitment, our commitment to the recovery of nature and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“But we need input from the sector and public. I encourage everyone to give their views to design a tree strategy that delivers the maximum benefits for our environment for generations to come.

Forestry Commission chair Sir William Worsley added: “The England Tree Strategy will set out how we plan to accelerate woodland creation, but also importantly how to manage and protect the trees we already have. Significant work has gone into developing the groundwork for a strategy that will ensure the right tree is planted in the right place, and for the right reason.

“We now need people to submit their views, to design a strategy that increases and balances the different benefits that our woodlands provide, to nature, to people, and to the economy.”

The England Tree Strategy will be developed in alongside the Tree Health Resilience Strategy; the forthcoming England Peat Strategy and Nature Strategy; and the future Environmental Land Management Scheme, all of which stem from the 25-year environment plan.

The consultation period will close on 11 September 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this closing date will be kept under review. Subject to review, Defra said England Tree Strategy would be published later this year.


Darren Moorcroft, CEO at the Woodland Trust, said: “The England Tree Strategy needs to deliver for nature, climate and people. It must set out how trees will help us cut carbon, support nature and wildlife, and contribute to better and more resilient landscapes and places to live and work. That means not just more trees in the ground, but planning expansion in a joined-up way and doing much more to look after the trees and woods we already have.

“Protecting, restoring and expanding native tree cover – with all the social, economic and environmental benefits that will bring – belongs at the heart of any ‘green recovery’. We welcome the consultation as a first step toward that vision.”

The Woodland Trust outlined five tests that the England Tree Strategy must meet.

  1. Deliver new woodland for nature, rivers, soils and climate.
  2. Protect and restore existing woods and the biodiversity within them.
  3. Connect people and trees.
  4. Support the woodland economy for new build, renovation and repair.
  5. Funding to make it happen.

Read more detail about the tests here on the Woodland Trust website.


Read more:

News analysis: Root and branch reviewed

Budget 2020: Government vows to increase tree planting and establish carbon storage sites

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