English Trees Strategy: Friends of the Earth’s expectations, and response plan

Friends of the Earth is concerned that the policy being launched at this time means that it will not get the scrutiny and attention it needs.
  Published:  28 Apr 2020    |      1 minute read
  1. Background

We expect that Ministers will soon be launching a consultation on their long-awaited English Tree Strategy. This is a crucial policy announcement that will determine how many trees we grow in England for years to come. Accessing woodland, and other natural habitats, has never been more important to our health and wellbeing, and the carbon absorption by trees must form a key part of the fight against climate breakdown.

Friends of the Earth is concerned that the policy being launched at this time means that it will not get the scrutiny and attention it needs.

  1. How is the Strategy shaping up, and what does Friends of the Earth want from it?

Unfortunately, the draft Strategy isn’t sounding great - it’s likely to contain a weak target for increasing tree cover and may not even include a target at all. What use is a strategy without a target? This lacklustre level of ambition is unacceptable.

Our expectation is that the Strategy will aim towards 12% woodland cover in England. This is an outdated, puny target that the government had already signed up to back in 2013 - before the Paris Agreement, before committing to net-zero carbon, and before parliament declared a climate emergency. It’s time that political will on trees catches up to the climate and nature crisis we’re facing.

Trees are one of our most important natural allies in fixing the climate and nature crises. Ministers must commit to doubling tree cover in the UK, from the current level of 13%, so it reaches 26%. We've got enough suitable land, we've got public support, it just needs political imagination - the missing ingredient in this lacklustre strategy.

  1. What is Friends of the Earth going to do about it?

Since launching our trees campaign 122,000 people have signed our petition to double UK tree cover.

We now want to make sure Forestry Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith hears loud and clear how much public support there is for a target to double tree cover to help tackle the climate and nature emergencies in the forthcoming English Tree Strategy. Friends of the Earth is going to virtually deliver its petition to Zac Goldsmith, by calling on thousands of supporters to take to Twitter from today (28th April) and call on Goldsmith to commit to doubling tree cover. Friends of the Earth supporters will also tweet at Zac Goldsmith to tell him they want to see UK tree cover doubled.

Tell the UK government to double tree cover to help tackle the climate emergency.