Trees must play key role in tackling climate change

9 October 2019

Trees and woodlands must be at the forefront of government thinking when tackling the climate emergency – and the time for action is now.

That was the message from a range of experts at the Confor Woodland Show at Longleat on September 5-6.

Guy Shrubsole, of Friends of the Earth, said at the event: “We need the government to step up. We doubled forest cover in the last century and it’s time to re-discover that vision, and do that again to tackle the ecological and climate emergency.” 

The Confor Woodland Show focused on how to increase forest cover significantly to make a real difference in charting the UK's path to net-zero emissions by 2050. 

“These new woodlands will be delivering low carbon construction material by 2050,” said Confor’s Dr Eleanor Harris. “When we create new woodlands, we aren’t just planting trees, what we are really planting is optimism, hope and excitement. “ 

The Committee on Climate Change has called tree planting a “simple, low-cost option” to remove carbon from the atmosphere – part of a mounting body of evidence that says tree planting and timber construction must play a greater role in mitigating the damaging effects of climate change.

In England last year only 1,420ha of new woodland were created, 71% short of the government’s own target. 

Confor’s England manager Caroline Ayre urged Defra to do more.

“We urgently need Defra to have a joined-up approach to supporting sustainable land use in England,” she said. “The Forestry Commission needs to be a one-stop shop for woodland creation, and senior management need to be held responsible for delivering on government targets.”

The Confor Woodland Show focused on increasing forest cover