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England’s 10 biggest landowners must grow more trees - Friends of the Earth

Major landowners, like the Church Commissioners and the Duchy of Cornwall, must use their estates to grow more trees and fight the climate crisis

New analysis by Friends of the Earth shows that some of the biggest institutional landowners in England have levels of woodland cover on their land that is even lower than the weak national average.

The environmental campaign group has produced the first league table of England’s ten largest landowners, ranked by the area of woodland they each own. Nationally, England’s woodland cover stands at 10%.

In last place is the Church Commissioners, the investment arm of the Church of England, whose 105,000-acre estate has just 3% woodland cover. At this year’s General Synod, the Church vowed to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

And despite the Prince of Wales being famed for his interest in environmentalism, his estate, the 130,000-acre Duchy of Cornwall, has just 6% woodland cover.

The Prince and the Church are surpassed even by Highways England, the government department that manages the country’s major trunk roads – but who also have 13,588 acres of woodland growing by the side of motorways, 11% of their total landholdings. Unsurprisingly, the Forestry Commission tops the list, with over 400,000 acres of woods.

Friends of the Earth acknowledges the vital importance of habitats outside of woodland that are also important for supporting nature and fighting the climate crisis, and that some landowners will prioritise restoring such habitats. Recent analysis of unpublished Forestry Commission data found that there is enough suitable land in England to triple tree cover in England, without impacting on other Priority Habitats such as peat bogs.

Posted on: 04 August 2020

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