Laura Sharman 21 April 2020

Councils call for more ambition on tree cover target

Six councils have called on the Government to double the tree cover target in England.

Councillors in Bristol, Hackney, Lancaster, North Somerset, Oxford and Wirral have written to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs calling for more ambition and funding for woodland creation from central Government.

Supported by Friends of the Earth, the letter states: ‘Currently, there is not enough Government funding for local authorities and other landowners to grow trees and woodlands. In 2018-19, only £20.5m was spent on woodland grants in England, compared to over £50m in Scotland.

’Also, there are no agroforestry grants available in England. County farms represent a big opportunity for local authorities to grow trees on their own land, but due to financial pressures, their extent has halved over the last 40 years.’

Danny Gross, trees campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Forward-thinking local authorities are leading the way in growing and maintaining new woodland, but where’s the support from government?

At the moment the government stands to miss even its own scant manifesto commitment on trees. The upcoming English Tree Strategy is a big opportunity to turn this around – it must focus on boosting spending on trees in England. We know that England has the land to double tree cover, it’s just the political will that’s lacking.’

At least nine councils have set targets to double local tree cover.

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