Confor and environmental groups call for action on tree planting on eve of election

3 July 2024

On the eve of the General Election, Confor has joined forces with The Woodland Trust, the Tree Council and Trees for Cities to call on the new UK Government to commit to new investment for far higher levels of future tree planting alongside action on key issues such as timber security.

Expanding tree cover is essential for tackling the climate and nature crises and providing vital sustainable economic growth and timber security. The minimum required by legal targets is 16.5% tree cover by 2050, but progress in recent years has fallen short of what is needed to meet that.

Despite more encouraging recent figures on new woodland creation, there is still a long way to go, with the UK almost 10,000 hectares a year short of the annual planting target advised by the Climate Change Committee, with England still well short of what it needs to plant to meet the 16.5% target.

Confor and the environmental organisations are also calling on the new UK Government to protect existing woodlands from threats of pests, disease and climate change and to work with them to bring woodland into sustainable management. 

Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall said: “All political parties have supported greater tree planting, but we need to accelerate the rate of woodland creation in England. Momentum has been building in recent years, and it’s vital that the next government builds on that and commits the modest sums of money required to unlock huge benefits for jobs, the environment and tackling climate change.

“We also need to tackle the growing challenge of timber security. It’s well known in forestry circles that the UK already imports 81% of the wood it consumes. It’s vital that the new government recognises this as well and that, as domestic and global demand for timber increases, the danger is that reliance on imports will increase at a time when pressures on the supply of wood will mount, threatening fragile forests overseas”.

Mr Goodall also urged the parties to follow the five actions outlined in Confor's election manifesto, The Future is Forestry: Working for the Wood - and the Trees

Dr Darren Moorcroft, Woodland Trust CEO, said: “We need all parties to set out plainly how they are going to meet tree targets, support green jobs and give nature a fighting chance for future generations. With the General Election looming, this is a pivotal moment for woods and trees. Woodland wildlife is still declining, irreplaceable habitats like ancient woods need urgent protection and restoration. Trees are one of the strongest weapons we have to tackle the nature and climate crises, so whoever forms the government after July 4th needs to act for people and the planet.”

In, the joint statement, the four organisations call on the new government to commit to trees, saying: