As an environmental scientist, a forester and parent, I applaud this week’s announcement by the Prime Minister for a renewed tree planting commitment of 30,000 hectares of trees every year in his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Importantly there is also a growing acknowledgement that new figures show how difficult delivering this will be, with only 763ha of land planted in England over the last six months.
Confor’s Chief Executive Stuart Goodall commented on this announcement by saying:
The forestry and wood industry welcomes the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to increase UK tree planting rates to 30,000 hectares each year. This is a huge challenge for the whole of the country and, while some progress has been made, particularly in Scotland, current statistics show just how much needs to change if the UK is going to get to this level by the middle of the decade.
Mr Goodall added: “Now that the Prime Minister has put his personal authority behind the latest drive as part of his Green Industrial Revolution, it's more important than ever to get the bureaucracy sorted and ensure all parts of the UK can deliver new planting to benefit the environment, business and the wider community.”
I welcome both the Prime Minister’s course of action and Confor’s plea for the need to address the bureaucratic obstacles to achieving this target. We live on a small island, incapable of providing all of the resources we need, so we have to take an objective look at an integrated approach to deliver on climate change, ecosystem services, societal benefits and the economy. For much of the north and west of the UK, forestry fits the bill extremely well with the potential to deliver on many of these key requirements if the administrative mechanisms are in place to support the level of planting required.