The future of trees and woodlands in England
This summer, the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a consultation to inform a new England Tree Strategy. The strategy – to be published later this year – will set out policy priorities to deliver an ambitious tree-planting programme. It will focus on expanding, protecting and helping English woodlands to flourish. And address the role of trees and woodlands in connecting people to nature, in the economy, in mitigating combating climate change, and restoring biodiversity.
At the International Tree Foundation, we felt it was important to participate in the consultation. And we actively called for more people and organisations to get involved. This is because we believe local communities should be at the centre of the tree-planting efforts. When communities feel ownership of the projects, the woodlands are more likely to flourish.
The broader value of trees and woodlands
Trees are so much more than carbon-sinking “machines”. A narrow carbon sequestration approach could easily result in large-scale projects growing just a few fast-growing species. The broader social, psychological, and environmental benefits and potential of trees and woodlands can and should be at the centre of England’s emerging tree strategy. In fact, they should be at the centre of most tree planting and forest restoration projects around the world.
At ITF, our vision is a world in which people and communities are improving their quality of life by planting trees. And by spending time with and learning from nature. We work towards a world in which people are actively involved in conservation, biodiversity and educational activities concerning their environment, natural resources and landscapes. We want to see farmers incorporating a variety of trees in their production systems and lands, and we call on urban planners and residents to realise the vital, wide-reaching importance and value of trees. For our livelihoods, for the environment, and for our mental well-being and health.
We will continue to play our part, in bringing about a world in which trees and forests flourish and their vital role in sustaining planetary and human well-being is valued.