The UK government has announced a world-leading target on halting species decline and a plan to treble tree planting between now and 2025.
The news came just after His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales launched a plan to celebrate his mother, the Queen’s, platinum jubilee next year as monarch, by inviting everyone in the country to “plant a tree for the jubilee”.
He said, “There is a reason for this profoundly symbolic act. Planting a tree is a statement of hope and faith in the future. As we approach this most special year, I invite you all to join me to plant a tree for the jubilee – in other words, a Tree-bilee.”
The Woodland Trust is giving away three million saplings to support the project, called the Queen’s Green Canopy.
“On top of expanding tree and woodland cover across the country, this is a celebration of ancient trees and ancient woodlands, recognising that some of the trees we have today were actually growing during the Iron Age, even before the Roman occupation,” said Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England.
Government plans to treble tree planting rates in England are to be funded through £500 million from the Nature for Climate Fund. And a new tree planting grant – the England Woodland Creation Offer – will offer financial incentives for landowners and farmers to plant and manage trees.
“Only 10 per cent of our land is protected for nature and only half of this is in a good state”
The Environment Secretary George Eustice, said, “We will be amending the Environment Bill to require an additional legally binding target for species for 2030, aiming to halt the decline of nature.
“This is a huge step forward, and a world leading measure in the year of COP15 and COP26 [to be hosted in Glasgow] as we build back greener from the pandemic. We hope that this will be the Net Zero equivalent for nature, spurring action of the scale required to address the biodiversity crisis.”
A new Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme will support the restoration of 35,000 hectares of degraded peatland in England, backed by over £50 million between 2021 and 2025.
And the Government will ban sales of peat products, subject to public consultation this year.
At least three new community forests will be created, allowing 6,000 hectares of new woodland to be planted by 2025.
A new Species Reintroduction Taskforce will reintroduce species such as the wildcat to England and help declining species recover. The Government will publish a consultation this summer on re-introducing beavers.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said, “Today we face a twin nature and climate emergency – these crises are entirely interlinked and one cannot be tackled without addressing the other.
“It’s essential that we stop nature’s decline and restore 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030 – doing so will help wildlife fight back and enable repaired habitats to store carbon once more.
“Vast, landscape-scale restoration projects need funding by government to help us reach this target because, at the moment, only 10 per cent of our land is protected for nature and only half of this is in a good state.”