Confor supports Climate Committee’s call for urgent action
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has called for urgent action to tackle the continued missed policy benchmarks on tree planting in the UK.
In the CCC 2023 Progress Report to Parliament, the Committee – an independent advisor to the UK government and the devolved administrations – notes the disparity between Government goals for woodland creation and the current progress.
The report puts forward the necessity of supplying funding and support at the correct level to meet the UK Government’s afforestation target of 30,00ha per year by 2025, and illustrative Net Zero Strategy targets of 40,000ha and 50,000ha by 2030 and 2035 respectively.
The CCC puts forward the need to set incentives to support agroforestry and hedgerows on UK farms by planting trees on 2% of farmland by 2025 and 5% by 2035, with hedgerows extended by 20% by 2035, with improvement management of existing hedgerows.
Stuart Goodall, Confor’s chief executive, says: “This report lays bare the need for radical action to get the UK back on track to net zero. Everyone is aware of the benefits of increased tree planting, especially more wood-producing forests to secure future timber supplies. More planting will help deliver our climate change targets, support wildlife, and provide jobs and economic growth.”
Goodall says that Confor is “working constructively” with forestry minister Trudy Harrison and Defra to address the issues identified by the CCC, adding that Harrison has taken a “very positive approach to productive forestry and the increased use of UK grown timber.” But that needs to be turned into action, he says.
“Confidence is coming back into the sector in England, and that is vital if we are to hit planting targets and secure the benefits of growing trees and producing more timber at home. I would stress, however, that confidence is fragile and it’s essential that all actions taken now support new woodland creation and ensure we have a growing productive resource of wood in England.”
The forestry and wood industry was working on a National Wood Strategy for England, to grow more wood in the country in an effort to avoid wood important rate increases, says Goodall.
At present the UK imports more than 80% of the wood products it consumers, leaving an £11bn hole in the UK balance sheet, according to latest figures.
The report highlights the role UK-grown timber can play in achieving net zero, while underlining the current weakening forest sink.