Successive governments have made popular pledges to plant large numbers of new trees. But do these trees ever get planted and, what else needs to be done to protect our natural landscapes?
Woodlands have a vital role to play in our landscape. As well as being a valuable source of homegrown timber, trees store carbon, provide an essential home for wildlife, absorb air pollution, and are important spaces for pleasure and leisure.
Growing attention has also been paid to their role in cutting flood risk. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that, in the right place, woodland can reduce water flow and siltation in rivers, and is considering its role as part of an ongoing national flood resilience review.
Despite this, only 13% of the UK – three million hectares – is currently covered by woodland. The figure is slightly higher in Scotland and Wales, and lower in Northern Ireland.
Woodland Trust – the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity is working hard to tackle the problems…
Over the next 10 years the Woodland Trust want to focus on the role of trees in our landscapes, and in urban settings too. They also want to rekindle people’s relationship with trees and woods, making them integral to our lives. The Woodland Trust highlight the threats to woodland, wildlife and the wider environment, and explains how they are growing, and how this threat can and will have an impact on all our lives. The Woodland Trust is particularly concerned about the loss of valuable ancient woodland, which now only covers 2% of the UK. Planning authorities must refuse permission for destroying irreplaceable habitats such as these but there is an important caveat: “Unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.”
The Trust is currently challenging 100 different planning applications around England where it believes ancient woodland is under threat from development; the most prominent example is HS2, which it says will directly affect 36 ancient woods another 27 indirectly through disturbance, noise and pollution.
For information about 4th Corner Tree Planting Services go to our Tree Planting page.
Please support the important work done by the Woodland Trust at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/about-us/woodland-protection/