Following the recent publication of the Committee on Climate Change Report ‘Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’ planting new woodlands and forests, as well as the reintroduction of active management in neglected woodlands, have emerged as the key recommendations for climate mitigation in the UK.

With political parties tripping over themselves to demonstrate their environment credentials through ever higher planting targets, the new Conservative Government has committed to seek to plant 30,000 new hectares each year by 2025.  A threefold increase on current planting rates, aims to increase UK woodland cover from 15% to 17% by 2050.

How?

The report sets out its thoughts (see extract from Table 1 below)  as to how this will be achieved, with the focus very much on the carbon market, but with a recognition that public funding will be required to support the many other benefits that forestry and woodland can offer.  The option of the review of tax policy is also to be considered.

Extract from Table 1 of Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK

*see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cross-compliance-2019

Whilst the above aspirations are laudable, there is a clear need to learn lessons from the past.  Whichever way you look at it, woodland is seen as a permanent land use change, and therefore will require regulation and support mechanisms that enable landowners to embrace this level of loss of flexibility.

We know that woodland can deliver against a vast range of economic and environmental targets and it will be critical that these are properly managed and supported in their widest sense.

Tree planting has not always had a good press, often driven by poorly designed incentives and weak regulation.  We have all seen the delivery of forests and woodland that have failed to meet the requirements of both the markets and wider society.  Small farm woodlands planted at 3m spacing and the widespread planting on unsuitable sites in the Flow Country being two examples.

However, the sector has learnt from these mistakes and is now ready and willing to embrace these new challenges, and create the new woodland that will protect us now and provide a productive and hugely valuable environmental asset for the future.

To discuss the above in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact our Company Chairman, John Lockhart on 01536 408840.

 

On 25th March the Ecosystems Knowledge Network is organising the Accelerating Woodland Creation Conference, taking place in the City of London.  It will focus on woodland creation in England.  We are delighted to announce that our Chairman, John Lockhart will be a keynote speaker.  To find out more and to express interest in taking part or sponsoring the event, visit https://ecosystemsknowledge.net/events/woodland.

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