Sponsored: Woodland creation: no time for target practice

Ahead of the upcoming Accelerating Woodland Creation & Management Conference this month, Bruce Howard and Dougal Driver set the scene for extraordinary years of tree related challenge and opportunity
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When government sets targets, there is always an element of brinkmanship with the people who can fulfil them. One of the most ambitious targets of all time is the government’s pledge to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland a year UK-wide by 2025. This is ambitious because, unlike vaccines, trees are grown and not manufactured. Added to this, land without trees is as precious to people as is wooded land.

Across England and Wales, the goal could equate to a four to five-fold increase in planting rates.

The clear presumption of all who advocate tree planting is that private and third sector land owners need to do much of the ‘heavy lifting’ in ensuring that England and Wales make meaningful contributions to the UK-wide target.

All eyes must, therefore, be on the business case for increasing woodland cover. This means that there must be clear revenue streams for decades to come; not just for carbon but for ‘services’ such as improvements in biodiversity and water quality. There is a need to establish what markets for home-grown timber will look like in the future, and to grow for those markets.

All eyes must now be on the business case for increasing woodland cover

The risks associated with pests and disease must be managed. Climate change is a risk to the trees that are supposed to ease our nations towards net zero. So these new woods must be resilient too.

Brexit and Covid-19 have taught us that securing local, understandable and transparent supply chains is essential in a society that has health and wellbeing as its first priority.

On 26th and 27th May, an incredible array of expertise is being assembled in order to shed light on the challenge of responding to the tree planting ambitions of government in Westminster and Cardiff. The opportunities for landowners prepared to adjust how they use their land is clear and with Grown in Britain’s new design and long term ‘Canopy’ verification tool, investors can rest assured that they are producing exemplary woods for the future.

The online Accelerating Woodland Creation & Management Conference is perfectly-timed in relation to the England Tree Action Plan and the development of a new National Forest for Wales.

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About the authors

Bruce Howard is Director of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network and Dougal Driver is Chief Executive of Grown in Britain.

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