Defra launches consultation on the England Tree Strategy

Farmers and land managers among those invited to give their views

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Plans to accelerate tree planting and improve the management of our existing trees and woodlands are underway following the government’s launch of a consultation to inform a new England Tree Strategy.

Everyone – from farmers, foresters and land managers, experts and environmental organisations, to members of the public – is being invited to give their views on the future creation and management of our trees, woodlands and forests.

Subject to consultation, the new strategy will set out policies to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodlands. It will help ensure the government’s tree planting commitment – to increase tree planting to 30,000 hectares per year across the UK by 2025 – is delivered, working closely with the devolved administrations, communities and landowners to do so.

The government is asking for views on:

  • how to expand, protect and improve our public and private trees and woodlands,
  • the increased role that trees and woodlands can play in supporting the economy,
  • how best to further connect people to nature, and
  • the most effective way in which trees and woodlands can be created and managed to help combat climate change.

By growing, protecting and restoring our trees, forests and woodlands we can help reduce carbon emissions, encourage biodiversity and nature recovery, grow our sustainable timber market, and improve people’s health and wellbeing.

Launching the consultation, Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith, said:

“In many ways the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the importance of nature. Growing and protecting our nation’s forests will be an integral part of our recovery, and the England Tree Strategy will give us the tools to do this.

This consultation will help inform a keystone strategy which will be vital for helping us deliver the government’s tree planting commitment, our commitment to the recovery of nature and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

But, we need input from the sector and public. I encourage everyone to give their views to design a tree strategy that delivers the maximum benefits for our environment for generations to come.”

In the March Budget, Defra welcomed the new Nature for Climate Fund from HM Treasury. The England Tree Strategy will help inform how elements of this £640million fund will be used to deliver against the manifesto tree planting commitments, alongside peatland restoration and wider nature recovery.

Forestry Commission Chair and former National Tree Champion, Sir William Worsley said:

“The England Tree Strategy will set out how we plan to accelerate woodland creation, but also importantly how to manage and protect the trees we already have. Significant work has gone into developing the groundwork for a strategy which will ensure the right tree is planted in the right place, and for the right reason.

We now need people to submit their views, to design a strategy that increases and balances the different benefits that our woodlands provide, to nature, to people, and to the economy.

The Forestry Commission will be at the forefront of delivery and I look forward to working closely with Defra and all stakeholders involved at this exciting time.”

The England Tree Strategy will be developed in parallel with other key strategies that flow from the 25 Year Environment Plan. These include the recent Tree Health Resilience Strategy and the forthcoming England Peat Strategy and Nature Strategy, as well the future Environmental Land Management Scheme which will operate on the basis of providing public payments for public goods.

The consultation period is due to conclude on 11 September 2020, with the strategy itself being published later in the year, subject to review.

You can learn more about the England Tree Strategy and submit your views on the Defra website.

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