Simon Morrish, CEO of landcaping supplier Ground Control, comments on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recently-announced 10-point plan for a 'green industrial revolution'.

It’s gratifying to the see the Government's commitment to begin to tackle the catastrophic impact climate change is likely to have on our lives. The fact they’re finally putting plans in place is hugely welcome.

As the guardian of the UK’s natural landscapes, our sector has a central role to play in the ambitious tree planting and rewilding plans. We need to be leveraging our extensive expertise, experience and knowledge to help the Government meet these goals. 

The scope of the tree planting scheme will present a number of challenges. Depending on the planting density of the different projects, it could need up to 60 million saplings annually – at the moment, that’s a figure the UK’s nursery infrastructure will struggle to consistently deliver.

READ MORE: PM unveils plan for ‘green industrial revolution’

Another significant problem will be the implementation of tree planting on this scale. A programme as vast as this requires specialist management to ensure effective delivery together with suitably skilled labour.

We’ve got to make the initiative financially attractive to key groups like private landowners and utility companies to encourage their involvement. The reality is they’re unlikely to convert from land uses such as farming to woodland creation if they’re going to end up out of pocket.

It’s also important to find and use land that isn’t going to be detrimental to the environment. Sites need to be carefully chosen to ensure that tree planting is the most appropriate land use and that valuable ecological sites aren't damaged or lost due to tree planting.

Much in the same way that feed-in tariffs (FITs) for wind turbines helped kick-start and establish the renewable energy sector, carefully targeted subsidies are going to be needed to ensure the environmental benefits are given time to come to fruition. Sadly, the FITs were effectively pulled probably a year or two early before the industry could fully stand on its feet unsubsidised.

It’s relatively easy to plant trees but if the entire system isn’t established and managed effectively, it won’t deliver the environment benefits that are urgently required.

Earlier this year, Ground Control launched a £5 million investment fund for early-stage startups dedicated to the environment and sustainability. The Evergreen Fund is financed by 5 per cent of the company’s annual profits and this season is said to be on track to spend £100,000 to pay for the planting of 45,000 trees across a variety of projects.​

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