Tree Planting Shortfall 2015-2016

Published 14th Jun 2016

Tree Planting Image Courtesy of Environment Agency

Tree planting shortfall in the UK 2015-2016

Just released by the Government, alarming figures show that although it committed to plant 11 million trees from 2015-2020, it will fall short unless dramatic measures are taken.

The Forestry Commission England indicates that in the past year, only 546 hectares of woodland were planted.  This equates to about 640,000 new trees – substantially short of the 2.2 million trees to meet the target.

The Chief Executive of Confor, Stuart Goodall, acknowledged the Government’s original commitment to the target was the “largest commitment given by any of the main political parties” and that the 11 million trees “represent a forest the size of Preston.”  He was keen to stress that “unless the government and Forestry Commission England take action now to reverse the poor uptake of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, there’s no chance of it meeting its target.”

Grant approvals were late this year, a fact that the Government blames for the low figures.  Adminstrative and IT issues were cited as reasons for the delay which have had a knock-on effect on demand planning for UK tree nurseries, including British Hardwood Tree Nursery Limited.   The Bht team have ridden the grant storm this year, achieving record growth. The company’s management team remains encouraged and feels that tree planting levels will gain momentum this year as it forecasts the programme of planting schemes across its clientele.

It is clear that the process of preparing and submitting application for grants must be improved as there is not only a widespread desire to plant trees, but a much needed risk if we do not plant sufficient trees to reduce future flooding risks.  Confor also hopes for the National Flood Resilience Review to reinforce this message.

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