The UK government is spending less than £1 per person per year on tree planting.
That’s the claim from Friends of the Earth, which says spending on planting and management in the UK has been in overall decline for several decades, falling to around £56 million across England, Scotland and Wales in 2017-2018.
It suggests tree planting rates reflect extremely modest funding levels, without money for tree planting, woodland creation and forestry being distributed by the UK government from EU-related Rural Development and Countryside Stewardship programmes.
The organisation notes despite modest amounts of funding and tree planting, funding systems for trees are “opaque, complicated and confusing”, with many schemes hard to distinguish from each other.
Friends of the Earth estimates that doubling tree cover will require public investment of around £500 million per year – around tenfold the current government spending on trees – it says this is necessary to absorb more carbon dioxide, mitigate flooding, cool down cities, improve soil and water quality and provide habitats for wild species.
The report states: “Faced with the combined climate and nature emergency, we can’t afford not to spend more money on trees.”
ELN has contacted DEFRA for a response.