MPs to debate failure to meet "unambitious" tree planting targets

A debate has been scheduled in Parliament on why the Government is seven years behind schedule in meeting its tree planting targets.

Image: Roderick T
Image: Roderick T

The Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 7 December was secured by Chris Davies, Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry. He said: "The latest analysis of planting statistics in England by trade body Confor makes worrying reading. Tree planting delivers an enormous range of economic, environmental and social benefits and we will miss out on these benefits unless we can really raise our game.

"I hope the debate can start to identify what more can be done to hit the target of planting 11 million trees in the lifetime of this parliament."

He added that the 300 hectares of new productive forestry planted ion Wales in the last five years "is just not ambitious if we want our Welsh forestry sector to thrive in future."

Confor says that in the 18-month period from April 2015 to September 2016, just 1.35 million trees were planted in England – at which rate the 11 million trees target will not be hit until summer 2027, more than seven years late.

"The 11 million target is neither ambitious nor linked to any policy objectives," said Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor: promoting forestry and wood. "It is simply a carry-forward from the number of trees planted by the 2010-2015 Government. We should be planting many, many more than 11 million trees in the lifetime of this Parliament."

Scotland by contrast is planting over 15 million trees a year on average and the Scottish Government aims to reach 22 million a year from next year, he added.

"However, planting in Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as in England, is a fraction of this and far behind their aspirations for more forestry. We need to use this debate as a springboard to increase tree planting dramatically to support the economy, environment and communities across the UK."

Goodall will give evidence to the EFRA (Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) committee inquiry into forestry next Tuesday, the day before the Westminster Hall debate.

Westminster Hall debates are held away from the main House of Commons chamber and give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues with government ministers.

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