Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Hilary benn welcomes professor read’s report ‘a national assessment of forestry and climate change’`

Hilary benn welcomes professor read’s report ‘a national assessment of forestry and climate change’`

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 25 November 2009

272/09 Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, today welcomed Professor Read’s report ‘A National Assessment of Forestry and Climate Change’. Professor Read’s report gives advice and recommendations on how providing extra tree cover in the UK can help reduce carbon emissions preventing damaging climate change.

Professor Read’s report, believed to be the first in the world of its kind, was commissioned by the Forestry Commission and says that an extra four per cent of the UK’s land covered by forests would reduce the UK carbon emissions by ten per cent.

Speaking at a Forestry Commission conference at London Zoo, where the report was published, Mr Benn said:

“Forests and trees are an important part of the way we live and interact with our surroundings, and we cannot underestimate the role that trees will play in reducing our carbon emissions. Greater forest cover can help us achieve this either through directly absorbing C02 or by providing more sustainable materials for construction and renewable energy.

“Professor Read’s report makes it clear that we will need to build on the work we have already done in order to increase the number of trees in the UK to help us prevent damaging climate change.

“The Government welcomes Professor Read’s report and as a nation we need to plant a very large number of trees over the next 40 years to tackle climate change by bringing down our carbon emissions. The Government will work with communities and businesses to ensure that this happens.”

The report suggests that planting approximately 23,000 hectares a year of trees over 40 years would mean changing the look of four per cent of the UK’s land. This would increase tree coverage to approximately 16 per cent.

Mr Benn and President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Ashok Khosla, will also be co-hosting a meeting of global Forestry Ministers and international business leaders on Thursday 26 November at London Zoo. This meeting will explore the scale of re-forestation globally with those that can make a difference on the ground and discuss what needs to be achieved to improve biodiversity and reduce global carbon emissions.

Mr Benn continued:

“It is clear that the Read Report can play a valuable role in the UK, but it will also be of great use internationally. Tomorrow I will be hosting a roundtable along with Ashok Khosla, the President of IUCN, where we will learn about the global potential for one billion hectares of forests to be restored. It will be really important to get an agreement on forests as part of a global climate deal at Copenhagen and to take action to reduce consumption of products associated with deforestation.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Read report was published at a Forestry Commission conference at London Zoo and is available from the Forestry Commission.

2. Professor Read was recently Vice President of the Royal Society and is currently Emeritus Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield.

The UK has around three million hectares of forest and woodland, or 12 per cent of the land area.

Professor Read’s report states that planting approximately 23,000 hectares a year for 40 years would be needed to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 10 per cent.


Defra Press Office
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Martin Deller
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