Latest news on the trees campaign

An update on the Tree Summit before wrapping up the campaign.

15 Dec 2020

Tree summit

This month we held a Tree Summit to directly pressure government on its mediocre tree targets.  

The day was full of panel discussions as well as a Ministerial address from Forestry Minister Zac Goldsmith. It was great to see a sense of shared vision and unity at the event, particularly around the need for an ambitious long-term tree cover target for England and support for a diversity of approaches for growing more trees including agroforestry and natural regeneration. 

For the first time ever Zac Goldsmith said that the current government tree targets are an absolute minimum and that the government could go further than their existing tree planting pledges if they can get more land from other government departments to help with this. He also mentioned pressure from Friends of the Earth supporters so thanks to those of you who took part in the England Tree Strategy consultation –  we've definitely been noticed! 

200 people attended the event including representatives from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), local councillors, farmers and campaigners. We’re pleased to say that over 70 people have now signed our Tree Summit joint statement calling for ambitious, long-term tree targets that are delivered in the right way and we’ve sent this on to Zac Goldsmith’s office. 

Woodland opportunity map

A reminder that we’ve launched the first ever map and league table of existing and opportunity woodland in every local authority area in England. You can use the map to see where there is potential to create new woodlands in your area. And check out our league table to see how your council area compares to others. 

Our research shows that there is the potential to at least double woodland cover in 63 local authorities, and increase it by 50% in 112 local authorities. 

We’ve created a guide for local groups to help you make the best use of the woodland opportunity map. It has advice on how to use the map, and how to share information with your councillors, local media outlets, and your networks on social media. I hope you find the guide helpful – and let us know if you have any questions. 

Wrapping up the Trees campaign

As the year comes to an end, we’ll be wrapping up our national Trees campaign so that we can transition to an exciting new nature campaign next year. 

We want to thank you for everything you’ve done to help show the government, both locally and nationally, just how much support there is for doubling tree cover. Together we’ve had some great achievements – to name a few: 

  • There has been a big shift in public opinion in favour of increasing tree cover to fight the climate and nature crises. 

  • At least 12 local councils have committed to double tree cover.

  • A huge increase in media coverage about the potential to grow more trees. 

  • In the run up to the 2019 general election, all major political parties announced ambitious tree planting promises.  

  • Water UK joined forces with us to lobby the government to double tree cover. 

  • Exmoor National Park Authority has become the first National Park to set a woodland cover target. 

  • Although the government has not yet published its response to the England Tree Strategy consultation, 10,000 (out of 18,000 total) responses to the consultation were made by Friends of the Earth activists and supporters. Zac Goldsmith himself as acknowledged this and admitted he’s feeling the pressure from us! 

You can of course continue to campaign for increased tree cover at a local level as part of our climate action plan for councils. If you haven’t already, you can join this campaign by registering as Climate Action Group

If you have any thoughts or questions about the winding down of the Trees campaign, please get in touch. And If you have any ideas about our new nature campaign, we’d love to hear them! Email us at trees@foe.co.uk

Trees