UK needs to plant 1.5 billion trees to tackle climate change, government told
Last year the UK planted just 13,400 hectares of woodland, the majority of which was in Scotland ( iStock )
The UK will have to plant 1.5 billion trees if it is to meet its pledge to reach net zeroemissions by 2050 – and this needs to “happen quickly”, government advisers have warned.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommended that 30,000 hectares be planted every year but if other carbon-reducing targets are not met, it said this will have to go up to 50,000.
Last year, the UK planted just 13,400 hectares of woodland, the majority of which was in Scotland. Woodland cover needs to increase from 13 per cent to 17 per cent – the equivalent of 1.5 billion new trees – the committee said.
“The government needs to develop a strategy to meet the 30,000-hectare target and it needs to happen quickly,” Ewa Kmietowicz, the CCC’s transport and agriculture team leader told the BBC. “It takes time for trees to grow and absorb carbon.”
The CCC has not yet worked out if the target should be 50,000 hectares per year.
Fighting climate change with trees: The facts
Woodland Trust director of conservation and external affairs Abi Bunker said: “The scale of what needs to be achieved to reach net zero targets is obvious; it will necessitate a three-fold increase on current levels. Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future.
“To avoid climate breakdown we have to act, that’s the reality we live in, tough choices, big challenge, but we can all rise to meet it head on.”
Rural landowners can apply for up to £6,800 of government funding for every hectare of land reforested. There is also a new two-year £10m fund to plant 130,000 urban trees.
Ms Bunker said the ambition of 17 per cent tree cover is achievable