Latest news on trees

What you can do to highlight the importance of trees during the pandemic, and update on the English Tree Strategy, and more.

15 Jul 2020

Our thoughts are with everyone who is suffering as a result of the pandemic. We hope you are managing as well as you can at this difficult time. 

England Tree Strategy consultation

The government has recently published its consultation on the England Tree Strategy – this strategy will determine how many trees we grow in England for years to come. So as you can imagine this is our best chance to get a commitment from the government to double tree cover.

Disappointingly, the draft strategy fails to set any tree target for England, and the measures it proposes would at best raise England's woodland cover from only 10% currently to just 12% by 2060. This is woefully inadequate.

Forestry policy in the UK is a devolved matter so the UK government only has jurisdiction over England’s trees – the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments are developing their own separate policies. One thing we’re particularly concerned about is Westminster setting England’s tree cover ambitions far too low and expecting other devolved nations to do all the work instead.

We need to show the government just how much public support there is for doubling tree cover across the whole of the UK. Friends of the Earth groups can provide a unique voice in responding to this consultation as you have been on the ground campaigning for this.

Will your local group respond to the consultation? We’ve produced a guide to help, and we're happy to answer any questions you have.

We’re also keen for those of you who are more experienced tree campaigners to help out local groups who haven’t responded to consultations before. Get in touch with rose.taylor@foe.co.uk if you would like to share your wisdom with other groups responding to the consultation.

Local councils will also play an important part in responding to the consultation. The government has assigned responsibility to councils to increase tree cover, but does not make any specific proposals alongside this for increasing funding for local authorities.

We’ve produced a guide for local councillors to submit their own response to the consultation. You can get in touch with your local council to let them know about this and encourage them to submit their own response.

Send this on to the councillor responsible for the environment and climate at your council and ask them to submit a response. We’d also recommend encouraging any landowners or farmers that you know in your local area to have their say and ask the government to set a target to double tree cover.

Highlighting the importance of trees during the pandemic

It is totally understandable if you want to put environmental campaigning on the backburner to focus on your own wellbeing and that of friends, families and the community at this time.

For those of you who would like to continue campaigning for more trees, here are just a few ideas of things you can do during lockdown:   

  • Research trees in your area. What is existing tree cover in your local authority area? How has tree cover in your area changed over time? What are your councils’ existing tree policies and targets? See our campaign guide for tools on how to find this out. 
  • Share photos of trees that are helping your wellbeing. For example, Manchester Friends of the Earth recently ran a “Photogratree competition ” for people to take photos of special trees in the local area. The Guardian also run a weekly Tree of the Week feature. Get in touch with rose.taylor@foe.go.uk for more information on submitting an entry to this. 
  • Give an online presentation about the trees campaign using our template presentation slides. Feel free to customise it to make it relevant for your community. 

Current government restrictions have also highlighted the importance of public access to nature. Daily walks have become something to treasure, but not everyone has equal access to gardens or parks. For example, black people in England are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no gardens or other outdoor space at home.

So, as well as running a mini-action to try to get councils to open up more green spaces during lockdown, we held a live Q&A on Restoring and reconnecting to nature after lockdown during which we discussed how we can create a fairer society where nature is restored and quality green spaces are accessible to everyone.

Thanks so much to those of you that joined us and asked some great, thought-provoking questions. If you weren’t able to join us on the night, not to worry, you can watch a recording of the talk here 

Coming up

Our next quarterly webinar will be in October. We'll share a registration link very soon.

In the meantime, you can always keep in touch at trees@foe.co.uk or in our campaign Facebook group .

Trees