On Thursday 11 June, the Forestry Commission published the latest government tree planting statistics.
Analysis of the statistics has been covered by national media today in The Times, The I and The Sun, as well as regionally in The Yorkshire Post. Coverage notes that tree planting in England increased last year but was below the rate needed to reach the manifesto commitment to plant 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK by 2025. The articles also reference calls by campaigners for government to ramp up tree planting efforts to meet targets to help absorb carbon emissions.
Overall, tree planting rates in England have increased since last year.
The statistics show that the area of new planting of woodland in England, including both Government and non-Government support, has increased by 54% since last year. Total new planting amounted to 2,330 hectares in 2019-20 from 1,420 hectares in 2018-19.
The total area of trees newly planted with all 10 forms of central government support in England has gone up by 64% since the previous year, also showing a clear upward trend. Under this support, there was 1,956 hectares of new planting in 2019-20, up from 1,273 hectares in 2018-19. This brings the total number planted with government support to 4,273 hectares over the last 3 financial years.
Further, provisional official woodland statistics from Forest Research show 13,460 hectares of new planting across the UK in the year to March 2020.
Commenting on the statistics, a Defra spokesperson said:
“Tree planting remains at the heart of our ambitious environmental programme which is why we have committed to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025 – working closely with devolved administrations, communities and landowners to make this happen.
“We are proud of our record on woodland creation but we know there is still more we can do.
“We have recently announced a £640m Nature for Climate Fund to support increased tree planting and we will shortly be consulting on an England Tree Strategy, outlining potential policies to expand and improve our woodlands.”
Forestry is a devolved matter. We will be working with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to agree how our combined efforts can meet our UK-wide tree-planting target and Net Zero emissions by 2050.