Government report bemoans poor success at woodland establishment but ignores urban opportunities.

24th March 2017
A new report “Forestry in England: Seeing the wood for the trees” from the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published on 14th March concludes the current operation of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme which provides environmental incentives for farmers and landowners is “not fit for purpose” and is acting as acting as a barrier to greater woodland creation. The ambition for England to have even the very low figure of 12% woodland cover by 2060 needs a fundamental change to the current complex bureaucratic subsidy system.

The committee quote the Woodland Trust as saying:

“there is so much that trees and woods can deliver across a span of benefits: in terms of commercial timber production but also all the other benefits, such as dealing with floods, dealing with air quality and providing places where people can get physical and mental relaxation.”

The frustrating aspect of the report is that within its 38 pages the words “urban” and “garden” do not appear once. The benefits of trees and wooded areas are not confined to the open country, but are arguably even more important for city dwellers.  Despite this the focus is entirely on boosting large scale plantations on big estates, some of which would be of limited public benefit.

We know gardens contain upwards of 30 million trees, a quarter of our non-woodland tree stock, and many more are part of wider urban green infrastructure.  83% of UK folk live in the urban environment.  It’s time government thinking on trees and woodland took a bit more notice of where they are most needed!

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