Is there any moment in planting brand-new trees? – BBC News

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Image caption Tree planting initiatives are favourite, but do they achieve results?

Successive governments have become popular pledges to flora large numbers of new trees. But do these trees ever actually get planted and, where they do, does it ever achieve anything useful?

Woodlands have a vital role to play in our scenery. As well as has become a valued source of homegrown timber, trees store carbon, support an essential dwelling for wildlife, absorb air pollution, and are important seats for pleasure and leisure.

Growing attention has also been paid to their role in cutting deluge risk. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs( Defra) said today, in the best place, woodland can reduce ocean move and siltation in flows, and is considering its role as part of an ongoing national spate resilience review.

Attempts have also been made to quantify their economic benefits: last year the Office for National Statistics appreciated woodland’s carbon sequestration assistances alone at 2.4 billion in 2012 – and its recreational significance at double that.

Despite this, exclusively 13% of the UK – three million hectares – is currently covered by woodland. The figure is slightly higher in Scotland and Wales, and lower in Northern Ireland.

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Image caption Some say trees have an important role to play in increasing resilience to inundating

It is a significant improvement on the low-pitched item of simply 5% after the First World War, when the Forestry Commission was formed to safeguard the national beam capital. But annual plant tiers in England are much the same as they were four decades ago – and have tremendously declined in the rest of the UK.

The UK has long been bound by an international commitment to protect and expand its woodland clothe, and in 2013, the coalition government said there was scope for increasing it “significantly”. Although government has never defined a target figure for overall coating, it did promise to plant a million trees in 12 months, followed by another four million the following financial year.

These assurances have been met in part through the Forestry Commission’s Big Tree Plant programme. In February, it announced that it had surpassed its target of planting one million trees in townships, metropolitans and neighborhoods throughout England – mainly in poor areas with little greenery.

Bold promises

Now Westminster has upped its recreation. In the 2015 Autumn Statement, medium official Rory Stewart promised to plant 11 million new trees over this parliament.

One million is likely to be planted by schools. Defra plans to fulfil the rest through its 900 m Countryside Stewardship scheme, which compensates farmers and other tract administrators up to 6,800 per hectare to flower, weed and protect young trees.

But Andrew Heald, technological administrator of forestry industry mas Confor, is sceptical. He says the gift strategies are flustering, advice is not easy to access, and the financial incentives are skewed; Countryside Stewardship offer 144 to cut down a tree, but exactly 1.28 to plant one.

The other restriction point is the availability of young trees in the nurseries, he says. Saplings can take several years to flourish and nurseries that have over-estimated planting requirements may end up igniting thousands of young trees.

Image caption Woodlands sequester large amounts of carbon

Austin Brady, administrator of protection and external affairs at the Woodland Trust, adds that there is not enough its further consideration of tree health and existence after planting. He says it is not just about the absolute number of trees but the quality of woodland – how diverse its species are, the commonwealth of its soil and all the animal and plant life that smothers it.

The other question is where there is a requirement to planted. There are increasingly sophisticated tools to facilitate regulators determine where excellent to bush trees; to addition biodiversity, for example, or reduce the risk of flooding. But Brady says depicting up a delineate doesn’t make anything happen.

“You still need owners, farmers, all levels of society, to recognise the benefits and engage in the process either by endeavouring admonition or potentially applying for a grant.”

Mr Brady has a reality check. He says set assurances often sound impressive but spread across a whole country they are relatively small. Eleven million trees over four years works out at exactly over 6,000 acres a year.

More importantly, he says it is not clear whether enough trees are being planted to replace those that are being lost.

Given the chop

Cutting down a tree usually involves allow from the Forestry Commission, which will take a record and may ask for the tree to be replanted. But applications for evolutions where small amounts of woodland need to be cut down follow up the planning organization and that information is not obtained centrally.

The Woodland Trust is particularly concerned about the loss of precious ancient woodland, which now only deals 2% of the UK. Scheduling sovereignties must repudiate dispensation for destroying indispensable habitats such as these but there is an important caveat: “Unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.”

The Trust is currently objection 100 different planning applications around England where it believes ancient woodland is under threat from increase; the most prominent example is HS2, which it says will immediately alter 36 ancient lumbers another 27 indirectly through confusion , racket and pollution.

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Image caption Large-scale planting raises questions about how to match its national economy, context and communities

“On an international stage, government is often talking about passing the behavior in supporting developing countries so that they don’t to be provided with deforestation, ” says Brady. “But if you try and add up the figures back home in England it’s very hard to establish whether we’re in a state of deforestation ourselves.”

The Trust notes with concern the loss of woodland from natural cases – through sicknes, old age or extreme climate – which may never be recorded or ousted.

Mr Heald calls this a “creeping deforestation effect”, including: “It won’t be seen clearly for five or 10 times so we’re are seeking to get people to start thinking about that now and start going a better handle on the data and the numbers.”

The Forestry Commission admits there is a lag in its people, but says they do eventually catch up. It compiles a National Forest Inventory every few years use a mixture of aerial photography and walkovers, and the next results are due in 2018.

Greater ambition

Nevertheless, government is under pressure from several line-ups to be more ambitious.

Heald like to remind you that the UK has comparatively little woodland encompas compared with its European neighbours and is the third largest timber importer in countries around the world.

The general public is surely in support of doing more; most of those responding to the Forestry Commission’s latest public impressions examination agreed that “a lot more trees should be planted” in response to climate change.

Mr Brady admits that cultural positions are a impediment. “In some communities there’s been nervousness about large-scale afforestation and its own history of the Forestry Commission altering a large part of tract from farming, ” he says.

He adds that a creative approaching is often asked. “It’s not necessary to talk about a wholesale shift of land use taking whole farms out of business, ” he explains.

“At Woodland Trust we’re trying to get beings used to belts of trees or hedgerows – acts that don’t take the place of the farming but is possible to make it more sustainable and improve it.”

Mr Heald is also optimistic. “We have to present tree set as a solution. You requirement the landowners and farmers to want to do it, rather than batter them with it. They’ve got to understand why this is a good situation to do. If we’re ever going to get money to flower trees it’s going to be now.”

Dominic Driver, head of national expertise and strategic growing at the Forestry Commission, agrees more could be done.

He says: “We’re really ambitious about this. We decided that 12% consider in England by 2060, up from around 10%, is reasonable. That’s not a government target – it’s a shared passion with the sector.”

But he is tired of comparings with other European countries, pointing out that numerous are larger and landlocked.

And he points out that large-scale woodland planting parents tough questions about how to poise the economy, context and communities – specially the difficult accommodation with agriculture.

“We’ve switched centuries of deforestation in past 90 years – people need to be patient about it.”

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