FORESTRY TRADE body Confor has welcomed the latest confirmation that the UK Government is committed to planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland annually by 2025.

A £92 million funding pot, part of the £640m Nature for Climate Fund, was announced for 2021-22 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of last week's spending review.

Mr Sunak's funding for the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs would, he said, 'keep us on track to restore more peatlands and plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year by the end of this Parliament'.

Confor CEO Stuart Goodall, responded: "This is good news, in that it reaffirms the commitment to the ambitious 30,000 hectare planting target and tops up the funding in place to support it.

"However, we won’t hit the target without planting larger areas of woodland, which will only happen in rural areas, and that doesn’t just need funding, but also a change in culture and slicker delivery," said Mr Goodall. "We need to recognise tree planting as a huge positive – to help meet our climate change obligations and to support a green recovery in our rural areas.

"In terms of delivery, Confor wants the current costly, complex and cumbersome procedures for planting to be streamlined, to reduce cost and time and to give people confidence to plant." He added: "We also need the constituent parts of the UK to work together and agree targets."

Confor has called for co-ordination of UK-wide targets in its response to the EFRA committee inquiry into tree planting. Currently, there is no specific target for England.

Confor's response also calls for a review of UK planting procedures, similar to the Mackinnon review, credited with driving up planting in Scotland. More than 80% of UK trees are currently planted in Scotland.

Jim Mackinnon, who led the Scottish review, will speak at the next meeting of the All Party parliamentary Group on Forestry and Tree Planting on December 10. That online event is titled 'One year on from the general election, is the Government on course to meet its tree planting targets?'

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