The parties have been trying to out-plant each other, with the Conservatives pledging 30 million new trees a year, the Liberal Democrats doubling that to 60 million, the Greens promising 70 million and Labour gazumping them all with a promise of two billion by 2040, which is an average of 100 million a year — or 270,000 a day. But there is little detail in the manifestos on how the parties would achieve their pledges and overcome the many factors which have frustrated previous government efforts to increase the planting rate. Nick Phillips, the Woodland Trust’s head of conservation policy, said the next government should focus on quality of woodland, not just quantity, meaning the need to store carbon would be balanced with creating the best wildlife habitat and beautiful woods for the public to enjoy. More than three times as many fast-growing conifers can be planted per hectare as broadleaf trees, but wildlife struggles to survive in dark, densely-packed conifer forests. Oak trees provide habitat for about 2,300 species, such as twig cutter beetle, wood warbler and pied flycatcher. Slow-growing native trees such as oak also lock up carbon for much longer than foreign conifers such as Sitka spruce, the most commonly planted tree in commercial forests.
Times 6th Dec 2019 read more »