Committee welcomes ‘positive’ government tree planting plans

20 Jun 2022 12:02 PM

The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee has welcomed the government’s response to its report, Tree planting, which was published in March.

The report made several recommendations on issues including:

  • how many trees England should be planting as its contribution to the UK total, which is aimed at improving the environment and achieving carbon net zero;
  • improving the mapping of areas where trees should be planted;
  • adjusting the ‘permanency’ requirements that could discourage farmers from testing the viability, for them, of tree planting;
  • increasing the use of domestic wood over imported wood to reduce the carbon footprint of timber used in the UK; and
  • helping tenant farmers to participate in tree planting schemes.

Chair's comment

The Chair of the EFRA Committee, Sir Robert Goodwill, said:

“This is a very positive response from the government. The committee can feel that its work on the tree planting issue was worthwhile.

“The government has told us how much woodland it plans to see planted in England – over 29,000 hectares by 2025. This provides welcome certainty to the sector and will allow the government to be held to account on the delivery of its ambitions There’s also a welcome commitment to improving mapping to ensure tree are planted in appropriate places.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to increasing the proportion of domestically-grown timber used in, for example, low rise buildings in the UK. That, and better management of our woodlands, should make the whole tree-planting project more viable.

“And we hope farmers will be pleased with the government following our recommendation to review the ‘permanency’ requirements of government schemes to encourage tree planting. This requirement acts as a blocker to farmers who need to experiment with different forms of land use to see what is viable for them.

“The government’s plan to have the Tenancies Working Group consider how tenant farmers can engage with tree planting schemes is another farmer-friendly recommendation which we are glad the government has accepted.

“So all-in-all this is a positive response to our report. But no one should rest on their laurels. We shall be watching very carefully to ensure these commitments are followed through.”