Woodland Trust urges political parties to double tree cover in 50 years

A 'Growing the Future' manifesto has been launched by the Woodland Trust in a bid to ensure the UK's native woods and trees take firm root in the general election debate.

It is calling on all political parties to adopt a target of doubling native tree cover in the UK over the next 50 years.

The Woodland Trust has issued a six point manifesto. It is calling on candidates and their party leaders to sign an online commitment to support expansion of tree cover during the life of the new Parliament.

It argues that such a commitment should be part of the wider strategy for tackling climate change mitigation and adaptation, protecting vulnerable wildlife habitats, improving public health - both physical and mental - and shaping places in which people want to live, work and spend their leisure time.

Members of the public are also being encouraged to use the online tool on the Trust's website to write to their local candidates to ensure that tree planting and creation of native woodland and its many benefits are an issue at the election and beyond.

Evidence from Natural England's Natural Health Service report estimates that if every household in England had good access to quality green space it could save around £2.1 billion annually from the £110 billion annual spend on health care.

In addition, a study by the Mersey Forest Partnership found that the region can expect to reap more than £10 worth of health and other benefits for every £1 invested in the network of trees, woodland and green spaces being created across Merseyside and Cheshire, bringing a total saving of £2 million to the North West.

Dr James Cooper, head of government affairs at the Woodland Trust said: "The time has come for all of us to grasp the fact that trees are not a luxury and just an aesthetically pleasing addition to the landscape, but have a vital role to play in securing our future quality of life.
"Trees are a key part of our life support system and the green lungs of our towns and cities.
"They clean our air, store carbon, can alleviate flood waters and the combination of direct shade and evaporative cooling can reduce the urban ‘heat island' effect in our increasingly hotter summers."

"In all these areas, trees should be seen as offering genuine value for money when you consider how many agendas they can deliver across."

Studies by the University of Manchester show that increasing tree cover in urban areas by 10% reduces surface water run-off by almost 6% and urban surface temperatures by as much as 4°C.

The UK has just 11.8% woodland cover compared to the European average of 44%.

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