The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said the strategy “will set out policy priorities to deliver our ambitious tree planting programme”, adding: “It will focus on expanding, protecting and improving our woodlands, and [on] how trees and woodlands can connect people to nature, support the economy, combat climate change and recover biodiversity.”
CLA President Mark Bridgeman said the organisation welcomed the Government’s plans to plant 30,000 hectares of trees per year in the UK by 2025, but added: “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 201
His view was shared by CLA member Michael Campbell, of the Ellis Campbell Group, based near Alton in Hampshire. Having taken advantage of small grant opportunities to plant trees in the past, he said government had a vital role to play in supporting planting, particularly to replace diseased ash trees. “I hope the Government will consider some kind of help to landowners,” he commented.
Mr Bridgeman added: “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, the Government should work with farmers and land managers to ensure the right trees are planted in the right place, while ensuring the right support is provided to develop a woodland economy that will create new markets and rural jobs.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government’s commitment to re-foresting Britain will create “a new patchwork of woodlands to enchant and re-energise the soul.”
To take part in the consultation, which ends on 11 September, visit https://consult.defra.gov.uk/a> and search for ‘tree strategy’