A major uplift in tree cover for the people and the planet in line with the Climate Change Committee’s advice, plus more funding for restoring and managing woodlands for the future.
We need more trees, managed well for future generations, in our landscapes. The official Government advisor, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) strongly agrees.
More native trees are needed to meet the net-zero carbon emission target or nature doesn’t stand a chance. Through a mix of new planting and natural regeneration we can fight the climate and nature crises together and grow resilient landscapes rich in wildlife.
By increasing tree cover outside woods, replacing those lost to disease and restoring and managing woodlands sustainably, we can grow ecological corridors and help threatened species to thrive.
We want parliamentary candidates to commit to increasing tree cover in line with the CCC’s advice and boosting funding to look after woods and trees for the long-term. Achieving this means we will need to see the financial incentives put in place through a new land use policy based on paying public money for public goods and overseen by public bodies properly resourced to monitor delivery and enforce standards.
Protection for our irreplaceable ancient woodland habitats and trees from the threats they face, implemented right across government, including from major infrastructure projects.
In 2018 we welcomed changes to planning policy in England that gave its precious ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees better protection against inappropriate development. But ancient woodland and ancient trees remain under threat.
These habitats are vital for wildlife, significant carbon stores and provide enormous social benefits. They are important gene reservoirs– invaluable in the face of diseases like ash dieback. Local planning authorities need to implement the national planning policy, backed up by up to date mapping and consistent advice from Natural England.
Major infrastructure projects, such as HS2, need to genuinely seek to avoid irreplaceable natural habitats.
We also need meaningful action to tackle the growing threats to woods and trees from pests and diseases. This means well-resourced efforts to detect incoming threats, new biosecurity legislation to prevent the introduction of unwanted organisms, and new regulations on the import and movement of plants aligned with those on the importation of animals.
Leading the world on environmental legislation, institutions and funding.
We need ambitious policies and laws to protect UK landscapes and wildlife. But in order to make sure they are well implemented, those bodies must be properly funded and empowered. The UK could, and should, be a world leader on the protection and restoration of the environment.
This means strong and ambitious environmental legislation that establishes an independent and well-resourced environmental watchdog; strengthens environmental standards ensuring they never fall below EU standards; sets out legally binding targets and contains a legal requirement to produce a trees and woodland strategy for England. All this is crucial to ensure the environment is healthy and resilient for people and wildlife.
We also need new legislation to govern how our farmed landscapes are managed, based on the principle of public money for public goods, to revitalise the countryside in a way that meets the needs of people, farming, food and the environment for generations to come. This approach must be underpinned by well-designed grant schemes that are easy to access.
Strong governance should happen at all levels. Local authorities should be required to play their part be properly funded to do so. Every local authority should have a tree strategy and a duty to consult local communities before commencing street tree felling programmes.