Delight as Lib Dems announce plans to plant 60 million trees a year - Tories have failed to meet their targets
Local Liberal Democrats candidates Cott, Avaei and Taylor have expressed their delight as their Party announces ambitious proposals to undertake the largest tree-planting programme in UK history. A Liberal Democrats government will plant 60 million trees every year, increasing UK forest cover by 1 million hectares by 2045. This is equivalent to one per person nationwide.
"Newcastle is above the 13% of the UK that is currently covered by woodland, but far far below the European Union average of 35%, which only one ward - Parklands - comes anywhere near. Many wards in the city are below the UK average level.
"The Conservatives have woefully failed to meet their own targets for planting trees in the past year. Only 1,420 hectares of trees were planted in England in the year to March 2019, 71% short of the Conservative government's target of 5,000 hectares for the same period, " they said.
Planting trees is one of the most viable ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere and is vital for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative will be a key part of the Liberal Democrat Party's plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and to halve emissions by 2030 compared to today.
Reforesting will have other benefits such as helping reverse our declining biodiversity, reducing air pollution and improving public spaces. It will also increase use of timber products in construction, which capture carbon and reduce construction emissions.
In their joint statement Dr Nick Cott, Ali Avaei and Dr Wendy Taylor, candidates for the three Newcastle seats (l-r in picture), also said :
"The climate emergency is destroying our natural environment and threatening our children's futures. We will tackle the climate emergency by taking bold action to rapidly reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible, and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
"Our plan includes the largest tree-planting programme in UK history, which will green our towns and countryside to absorb damaging emissions. This will help us reach net-zero emissions, and will nurture biodiversity, combat air pollution and improve public spaces.
"It's clear that the Conservative Party doesn't take climate change seriously. Only the Liberal Democrats have a radical plan to make a real impact in the fight against climate change and build a brighter future for our planet."
Tree planting has fallen significantly over the years, from nearly 30,000 ha/year (hectares per year) in the late 1980s to less than 7,000 ha/year in 2017 and still falling.
Liberal Democrats are pledging to spend £6 billion over the next parliament to increase tree planting levels to 40,000 ha/year (approximately 60 million trees per year) and to help fund the restoration of other natural carbon sinks, such as peatlands.
The trees will go all over our country - supporting major afforestation initiatives like the Northern Forest, but also urban trees in our towns and cities as well as incentivising farmers to plant trees on their farms.
'Tree-planting in England falls 71% short of government target' - June 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/tree-planting-in-england-falls-72-short-of-government-target