THE UK has once again failed to reach even half of its annual tree-planting target - and ministers have come under fire as a result. 

New statistics show 13,840 hectares were planted in the 12 months prior to March 2022, around a third of the government's goal of 30,000 ha each year by 2025. The figure is only slightly higher than 2021's total of 13,410 ha. 

Scotland came out on top of the country's four nations, creating 10,480 ha of new woodlands - about 80 per cent of its own annual target. According to Forest Research, England was next with 2,260 ha of new woodland, with Wales (580 ha) and Northern Ireland (540 ha) completing the list. 

Confor's Stuart Goodall was among those to criticise officials for the findings, calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to personally step in and take control of the situation. 

He said: "This is a total policy failure in both economic and environmental terms.

"Report after report has shown that increased tree planting and wood use is vital to meeting the UK's net-zero targets - yet this is not being translated into trees in the ground." 

But how does each of the UK's four nations fare compared to their individual targets and what has been the response to the Forest Research report? We've brought it all together in our handy guide. 

Read more on today's Forest Research report 


Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “We have stretching and ambitious targets when it comes to tree planting, and just last year we launched the England Trees Action Plan.

Forestry Journal: George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

"Through the plan, we will plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year in the UK by the end of this Parliament, backed up by over £500m of Nature for Climate Funding.”


Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “Over the last four years Scotland has consistently created over 10,000 ha of new woodland each year. This has been achieved during the challenges caused by Brexit, the global Covid pandemic, and the worst winter storms for over 10 years.

“Whilst it is disappointing that we have not met this year’s target, mother nature dealt us a salutary lesson of the power of the weather and reminded us of the challenges of climate change.

Forestry Journal: Environment Minister Mairi McAllan Environment Minister Mairi McAllan

"Even now, clear up operations from the storms are continuing so it is no surprise that they had an effect on tree planting operations.

“It is good news that we have comfortably met our native woodland target and Scotland is punching above its weight in creating over three quarters of all the UK’s new woodlands.  

READ MORE: Phytophthora Pluvialis: All the British areas where new tree disease has been found

“The future is also looking very encouraging as there is a very healthy demand for woodland creation projects in the pipeline.

"Scottish Forestry is accelerating applications for woodland creation schemes and is already working on around 13,000 ha worth of new projects.”


A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “It’s encouraging that woodland creation in Wales doubled in 2021/22 but we need to do more to meet our target of creating 43,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030.

“Last year we held a short, intensive review to remove barriers that were preventing woodland creation and recommendations are already being implemented.

“We hope these will lead to a significant increase in woodland creation in the coming years.”

Northern Ireland 

A DAERA spokesperson said: “In March 2020 Minister Edwin Poots announced a challenging afforestation programme, Forests for Our Future, to create 9,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030.

"The 2021/22 Business Plan target for new woodlands was 600 hectares, against which we achieved 540 hectares.

"Although the Business Plan target was not fully achieved, 540 hectares represents a significant increase in planting over previous years where the average has been 250 hectares over the previous five year period.”