THE UK Government has launched a consultation on the new England Tree Strategy.

Launched on 19 June, the consultation is seeking views on how to increase tree planting and tree and woodland management.

The findings will help inform the government’s tree strategy, which will be published later this year, subject to review.

Through the open consultation, the government is encouraging people to give their views on four key areas: how to expand, protect and improve public and private trees and woodlands; the increased role that trees and woodlands can play in supporting the economy; how best to further connect people to nature; and the most effective way in which trees and woodlands can be created and managed to help combat climate change.

Launching the consultation, forestry minister Lord Goldsmith said: “This consultation will help inform a keystone strategy which will be vital for helping us deliver the government’s tree planting commitment, our commitment to the recovery of nature and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“But, we need input from the sector and public. I encourage everyone to give their views to design a tree strategy that delivers the maximum benefits for our environment for generations to come.

“In the March Budget, DEFRA welcomed the new Nature for Climate Fund from HM Treasury. The England Tree Strategy will help inform how elements of this £640 million fund will be used to deliver against the manifesto tree planting commitments, alongside peatland restoration and wider nature recovery.”

Industry body Confor welcomed the consultation, but highlighted England’s “very disappointing” 2019/20 planting figures, and said more effective management of existing woodlands is needed.

Caroline Ayre, national manager (England), commented: “Confor welcomes the consultation on the first tree strategy for England since 2007. It comes at a crucial time as the Government develops its plans for a green recovery from COVID-19.

“However, statistics showed that only 13,460 ha were planted in the UK in 2019/20 – 80 per cent of that in Scotland.

“Scotland proves that achieving ambitious targets means planting all types of woodland, including large, modern, productive forests.

“England planted only 230 ha of productive conifer forests in 2019/20, a very disappointing figure. To get anywhere near the 30,000 ha target, the UK Government must plant large, modern productive forests and recognise the enormous economic as well as environmental benefits (including tackling climate change) they can deliver.”

The 12-week consultation period is due to conclude on 11 September, but this date will be kept under review in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

All feedback for the consultation is to be submitted online here.

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