TREES and woodlands must be at the forefront of Government thinking when tackling the climate emergency – and the time to be planting them is now.

That was the key message from the Confor Woodland Show at Longleat, where forestry industry bodies and environmentalists came together to press the UK government to boost its tree-planting incentives.

Speaking for Friends of the Earth, Guy Shrubsole said: “We need the Government to step up. We doubled forest cover in the last century and it’s time to re-discover that vision, and do that again to tackle the ecological and climate emergency.

"We need more woods everywhere, on farms, hedges, in the urban fringe and more, better woodlands for a wide range of purposes.”

Confor’s Dr Eleanor Harris said: “These new woodlands will be delivering low carbon construction material by 2050. When we create new woodlands, we aren’t just planting trees, what we are really planting is optimism, hope and excitement. “

The Committee on Climate Change has called tree planting a 'simple, low-cost option' to remove carbon from the atmosphere – but in England last year, only 1420 hectares of new woodland were created, 71% short of the Government’s own target.

Confor’s England manager, Caroline Ayre, urged Defra to do more: “We urgently need Defra to have a joined-up approach to supporting sustainable land use in England. The Forestry Commission needs to be a one-stop shop for woodland creation, and senior management need to be held responsible for delivering on Government targets.”