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International Day of Forests 2023

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

On the UN International Day of Forests, I am calling on the Government to urgently invest in and support tree planting at the scale and pace needed to tackle the climate emergency.

The UK Government is failing to meet its own inadequate tree planting targets. In 2019, the Government pledged to reach 30,000 hectares of new planting by the end of next year. Yet in the last financial year they planted just under 14,000 – far short of what is needed.

The Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor), which represents over 1,500 forestry and wood businesses across the UK, said progress was “woeful.” At this sluggish rate, there is now “zero chance” of reaching the Government’s targets, let alone what is actually needed to address the climate crisis.

Nature is declining at an alarming rate, with over a million species at risk of extinction and deforestation accelerating in the Amazon, Indonesia, and around the globe. If we are to have any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, we must dramatically scale up tree planting efforts both in the UK and internationally.

Not only do we need more trees, but we need the right trees planted in the right places. This means developing and implementing a comprehensive Land Use Strategy, training a nature-ready workforce, and providing long-term support for plant nurseries to achieve Net-Zero and restore nature.

Nature and trees are not just a source of beauty; they are vital to our well-being. Research suggests that increasing access to green spaces could save the NHS over £2 billion per year by reducing the incidence of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and depression. More trees mean cleaner air and reduced stress, and all the benefits that come with it.

Labour is committed to protecting and restoring existing woodlands as well as planting millions of new trees. We will ensure that all public spending and infrastructure decisions are rigorously tested to align with our climate change and nature commitments. Only then will we secure a sustainable future for our planet.

Forests are vital to the health of our planet and all species. By working together to plant more trees, protect biodiversity, and shift to sustainable forestry and land use practices, Labour will deliver the green future we so desperately need. The time for half measures is over. Nature can’t wait, and neither can we. By investing in our forests and woodlands, we can create healthier, happier communities and protect the planet for future generations.


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