We’ve just kicked off a new tree-planting project in Wolverley, Worcestershire - where we’ll be supporting the community to plant hundreds of trees as natural flood defences. Wolverley’s been flooded four times in the last decade alone. It’s a similar story in towns across the UK, and climate change will only make things worse.
In response, the community in Wolverley has come together to tackle the problem locally, starting with trees. Trees make great defences against flooding because they drink water and eat carbon - stopping rainfall from reaching the river, while also helping us stop climate change.
But climate change and its consequences are far bigger than one village. The UK needs loads more trees if we’re going to tackle climate change. That’s why we’re calling on the government to follow Wolverley’s lead and triple our national tree-planting targets. Are you with us?
What are we asking for?
The government say they will plant 11 million trees by 2022. This is great. But new evidence shows they’re falling behind on this target. In fact, they need to triple their tree-planting rates to meet it on time.
What’s more, the Climate Change Committee - that’s the government’s own climate advisors - say this target should be at least three times higher if we’re going to keep up with climate change.
So, as the government get ready to bring forward their Environment Bill this autumn, we’re asking Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to step up ambition when it comes to planting trees. We want to see a commitment, in law, to at least 33 million trees in the ground by 2022. This will make sure we’re on track to meet our national climate targets by the 2030s.
How do trees tackle climate change?
When you get into it, trees are pretty amazing at tackling climate change. As trees grow, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it as wood - acting as natural ‘carbon sinks’.
While there are lots of different ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere using natural methods, trees have by far the biggest potential and impact. This makes them pretty essential for getting climate change under control. And on top of this handy quality, they also create biodiversity and habitat for precious species, provide protection during heatwaves, help keep us humans happy, and let’s face it - look pretty beautiful. That’s why we need to get planting.
Where will the trees go?
Using best practice planning processes, we can plant millions more trees in the UK while still making sure they are the right trees, in the right places. When it comes to planting trees, there’s a whole host of things to consider - from choosing the best kinds of trees, to ensuring thriving habitats, protecting native species and working with farmers and other land-users.
While it will be up to the government and local planners to decide where the trees go, we’re advocating a sustainable approach that works with conservation and other needs. In Wolverley, we’ll be working with local tree experts to identify native trees that provide good protection from flooding while also absorbing lots of carbon. The trees will also increase biodiversity and be enjoyed by local people for decades to come. Lovely stuff.
Photo: Andrew Scottow, cc.