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UK Government must raise game on conifer planting record - Confor

Confor has warned the UK Government that it will fail to meet its planting targets unless it makes rapid progress in getting many more trees into the ground in England.

Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO, specifically highlighted the need to stimulate the planting of new productive forests to provide the supplies of wood needed for a future green economy.

According to new official figures, overall tree planting across the UK totalled 13,460 hectares in the year to March 31, 2020 - very similar to the 2018-19 figure of around 13,400 hectares.

planting figures via confor
planting figures via confor

This means no real progress has been made towards achieving the UK Government's ambitious target of planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year by 2025. In fact, in England the level of productive conifer planting actually fell to a “miserable” 230 hectares.

Mr Goodall said: "While we were pleased to see the UK Government commit to an ambitious planting target, these figures show the Government is way off track. The 2025 target is in line with what Confor has said is achievable, and shows that Government is listening to the Committee on Climate Change who have emphasised repeatedly that tree planting must be a key component in the fight to reduce atmospheric carbon and tackle climate change. However, to hit such targets will require large-scale planting of both conifers and broadleaves in England, and that simply isn’t happening – 230 hectares of conifer is a miserable achievement. We need to be planting far more productive forestry if we are to reduce our global carbon and environmental footprint – the UK is the second largest net importer of timber in the world after China."

The figures showed Scotland is still planting more than 80 per cent of trees in the UK - 10,860 hectares, including around 7,570 hectares of conifers and 3,890 hectares of broadleaves.  More on the Scottish figures here.

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