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New Tree Planting Falling Woefully Short in England

New 2015/16 figures released by the Forestry Commission have shown that the planned annual target of 5,000 hectares of new woodland in England fell short by 86% with only 700 hectares recorded. These figures are separate from any restocking undertaken post clear-felling of which 14,000 hectares were reported in the UK for the year.

As of 31st March 2016, there are an estimated 3.16 million hectares of woodland in the UK representing 13% of the total land area and 10% of England’s land area. The government has committed to planting 11m trees by 2020 with most of this planting likely to be on privately owned land. Only 0.86 million hectares in the UK is owned or managed by the Forestry Commission (England and Scotland), Natural Resources Wales and Forest Service Northern Ireland.

Trees play a vital role in improving water quality, delivering natural flood defences, improving biodiversity and acting as shelter belts to name but a few. The importance of shelter belts is currently being measured by researchers at Bangor University, which is due to conclude in 2018. Field parcels protected by trees, shelter belts and hedges provide shade in the summer and reduce the wind-chill effect in winter. During adverse weather conditions sheep will use a considerable amount of energy to stay warm or cool down. Providing shelter will convert this energy to growth and general health particularly in younger stock. There may be opportunities to explore grant funding for woodland creation to assist here, especially in lower value land in exposed locations such as the uplands.

Schemes such as the recently re-opened Woodland Creation Planning Grant (WCPG) available through the Forestry Innovation Fund, are aimed at supporting this 2020 target of 11m trees. The WCPG contributes towards the costs of gathering and analysing information on biodiversity, landscape, water and stakeholders. There is a minimum area of 30 hectares and applications must show long term benefit for the forestry sector. It is worth noting applications can span land holdings.

For further information please contact:

[team-member name=”Edward Staveley”]



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