Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, today called for urgent action on tree-planting, after new analysis revealed that the rate of tree planting across the UK is so low that the government will only reach the level needed to hit our legally binding climate targets by 2091. This is despite excellent initiatives like those based in Oxford which have been increasing tree cover- like those instituted by the Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon Group, with the support of the City Council.
The Committee on Climate Change, which is an independent, statutory body, has said that we need to reach 17% forest cover at a minimum by 2050 – but last year we only planted 13,660 hectacres of new forest across the UK. At this rate, it will take the UK until 2091 to hit that target.
Anneliese Dodds had her name against Labour’s amendment to the government’s environment bill calling on the Government to publish a Tree Strategy for England (NC25). The Government’s recent England Trees Action Plan (which is not the full long term strategy they committed to) sets targets for tree planting but contains little to protect and maintain new, and restore existing, woodlands.
Labour’s plan would ensure the Government produces a full strategy, including targets for these areas. It would commit the government to set aside 30,000 extra hectacres of woodland to restore habitats and reduce net carbon emissions.
The amendment was defeated on Wednesday 26th May.
“Campaigners in Oxford have rightfully been highlighting the need to vastly increase our tree cover- and we’ve seen local groups taking action, with the support of the City Council, to improve things.
But nationally, we are falling way behind. On current projections, it will take another seventy years for us to hit our climate targets – meaning many of us will be dead and gone before we see enough trees planted in Britain!
The Environment Bill falls woefully short of meeting the challenge we face. The government must do more if we are to meet our climate targets and restore our natural environment.”