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The UK’s Tree-Planting Crisis: Only 13% of Our Land is Covered in Trees.

With only 13% of the UK’s total land area covered in trees, campaigners are arguing that the low level is causing economic and environmental damage to the country.

The Conservative party agreed to plant numerous trees in the recent election. However, according to BBC news, Chris Morris (a Reality Check correspondent) reports that in order to reach their goal, they must increase the planting intensely.

The average of land area covered in trees elsewhere in the EU is around 35%; England has only 10%.

11 million trees were planted in England between 2010 and 2015, as part of government schemes. Another 11 million trees were promised to be planted over the next five years by the 2015 Conservative Party. When the snap election was called it appeared that the planting wasn’t going according to the plan.

Within the first year, 642,000 trees were planted, and between 2016-2017 802,000 were planted according to BBC news.

Scotland have the highest woodland coverage in the UK of 18%, second is Wales who have 15%, third England at 10% and lastly Northern Ireland only have 8%.

In 2008 the Welsh government said that for every child born or adopted in Wales a tree would be planted, in 2014 they stretched this to another tree in Uganda for every child.

How is the problem being fixed?

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have said they’re working together with landowners to increase the amount of land covered by woodland. They have also mentioned that they’ve simplified the process to apply for the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation grant. This is a 2-year work programme that aims to shield and plant trees.

Tree planting isn’t likely to become a top priority in the UK.

At the end of World War One, the UK hit a historic cut in woodland coverage. Since then the numbers have increased significantly, however we still have a lot to do before we catch up with the figures from comparable developed economies.

In 2016, England’s rate of planting trees decreased to the lowest level seen in over 40 years.

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Sources used:

The Defra page – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/countryside-stewardship-woodland-creation-grant-manual-2017

BBC News ‘Reality Check: Is tree-planting target being met?’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41551296