Ensure new tree targets have nature at their heart

Credit: Niall Benvie/WTML

Support a target to increase tree cover and recover nature at the same time

Native trees and woods are havens for the UK’s struggling wildlife. They provide vital habitats for wildlife, from woodpeckers to bumblebees. 

Oaks alone are homes to 2,300 different species.

A target for tree and woodland cover should accelerate efforts to combat climate change and create habitats where wildlife can thrive.

We welcome the proposal for a new legally binding target for tree cover. But it must drive better woodland habitats for nature and climate, not just bigger.

We want a target that leads to more trees and woods across England which are: 

  • High quality - a minimum 300,000 hectares of native trees - the best trees for wildlife 
  • Well connected - expanding and connecting existing woodlands.

The Environment Act became law in November 2021. It has kickstarted a process for the Government to set new environmental targets. And it is currently asking for public views on which new environmental targets it should introduce. 

Every target proposed needs to be improved if they are to make a real difference. A tree and woodland target is welcome, but it must be improved too.

Ask Government to introduce a native tree target - to do the most we can to fight climate change and help nature recover.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Environment Act?  

The Environment Act was passed into law in 2021 as the UK’s key piece of environmental legislation. It sets out many important policies, as well as targets, which the Government must adhere to. It’s a wide-ranging legal document, involving air quality, resource efficiency, conservation and pollution – just to name a few. Thanks to thousands of passionate campaigners and supporters raising their voices, the Government laid the framework for nature’s recovery. We now need to ensure that the resulting targets give the best outcome for nature, woods and trees.  

Find out more about the Environment Act here.  

What is the Government currently doing? 

There is currently a consultation on the target-setting process outlined in the Environment Act. While there are some good elements, overall the Government’s proposed targets don’t have nearly enough ambition or a wide enough scope. We can’t miss the opportunity to secure legally binding targets which prioritise nature.

The Government is currently proposing an increase of tree canopy and woodland cover from 14.5% to 17.5% of England’s land area by 2050. But it has no proposals for ensuring that the woods and trees planted will deliver for wildlife.

What other targets are being proposed?  

The Government has also set targets relating to water, air quality, waste and biodiversity. The biodiversity target in its current form could leave wildlife populations lower in twenty years’ time than they are today.

We support Wildlife and Countryside LINK’s call for more ambition across the board.  Read LINK's statement on the environmental targets here.

Raise your voice to secure a better target for woodland expansion.  



consultation responses already sent


The Government's proposed environmental targets for England need improvement. The tree cover target is no different. 

Ask Government to introduce a native tree target for nature and climate now.

Include your own message in the box below to share your thoughts on the proposals.

DEFRA Environmental
Targets Team


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