Report launched at Chelsea identifies collaborative solutions to drive oak import substitution

The HTA has launched a report at RHS Chelsea Flower Show on import substitution of oak trees (Quercus species) which notes that since 2013, the UK has imported 1.12 million oak trees.

English Oak - image: Pixabay
English Oak - image: Pixabay

The HTA says there is a great opportunity for the UK "to increase production of this iconic tree, thereby boosting the economy and improving biosecurity".

The report identifies the reasons for the high import levels of oak, and suggests collaborative solutions for industry and government to address them. The main challenges are to improve supply chain efficiency, improve public procurement and market conditions, and encourage better sourcing of UK-grown trees.

HTA horticulture director Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "There are no physical reasons why we shouldn’t be growing most of our own oak trees in the UK. We hope to discuss this important report with the new Government, once they are settled after the election. It would be great to work together to achieve manifesto promises of millions of trees during the life of the next parliament. The exact same promise was made in the last one, and this fell short."

The manifesto pledges to honour a promise to plant 11m of new trees by 2020. Curtis-Machin says the Government were "woefully short" of hitting tree planting targets in the previous term.

According to UK Government statutory notification data, between 2013 and 2015 there were 1,597,567 trees imported, of which 1,117,696 were oak (Quercus species). The main supplying countries were The Netherlands (575,000), Belgium (323,000) and Hungary, France and Bulgaria (under 32,000 each).

The HTA’s aim in producing this document is to gain recognition of this issue and support from the government to boost UK production.

The report launched at the Sunbury Rd HTA/industry exhibit at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

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