Natural regeneration is the key to saving Britain’s forests, says charity.
Allowing trees to naturally establish over huge areas could massively expand Britain’s woodlands at a fraction of the cost of tree planting, according to research conducted by Rewilding Britain.
Rewilding Britain has criticised the government’s draft England Tree Strategy, stating that it is ‘woefully inadequate.’
The current government targets for reforestation fail to set a tree target, and will at best raise England’s woodland cover from 10% today to just 12% by 2050.
Rewilding Britain is instead calling on the government to support a doubling of the country’s woodland cover over the next decade, from 13% to 26%.
According to their research, this could help to absorb 10% of current UK greenhouse gas emissions annually.
To achieve this, Rewilding Britain has said that the government should raise its annual investment from £50m now to at least £500m.
They have stated that by doing this, there will be many long-term economic benefits, from jobs in forestry, tourism, carbon storage and flood mitigation.
Rebecca Wrigley, chief executive of Rewilding Britain said: ‘We urgently need an expansion of nature’s recovery across Britain that matches the scale of the threats from accelerating climate heating and species extinction – with clear and bold targets from the Government.
‘We can’t replace our lost woodlands by planting alone. Protecting ancient woodland fragments, and allowing and assisting trees to naturally regenerate on a big scale, is the most effective way of reversing the sorry fortunes of our crippled forests and woodlands, and so benefiting people, nature and the climate.’
‘Our ancient woodlands are only absent because we’ve destroyed them and continue to work hard to prevent their return through over-cutting, over-mowing and over-grazing. If we let them, millions of trees would plant themselves across most of Britain.’