Planting the right tree in the right place should be the driving principle behind the UK's tree planting ambitions, according to the English National Farmers Union.

Launching its own Tree Strategy, the union cautioned against blanket planting, saying instead that selecting the right tree species, appropriately sourced to match the location, and maximise long-term objectives was the right way forward – while never forgetting the importance of land for food production.

The NFU strategy also suggests that the UK government's official tree planting policy should –

• Recognise of the importance of bringing existing woodland back into active management;

• Address existing barriers to tree planting, particularly existing tenancy clauses which prevent agricultural land from engaging in tree planting;

• Incentivise trees outside of woodland, which contribute hugely to the natural environment and act as carbon sinks.

NFU environment forum chairman Richard Bramley said: “Farmers right across the country understand just how important trees, hedgerows and woodland are, and recognise that there is a clear target to increase tree planting.

“They offer obvious benefits to the environment, particularly how they can contribute to British farming reaching its 2040 net zero ambition, but they are also invaluable for our farmland; providing field boundaries or offering shade to cows and sheep during the summer months," said Mr Bramley.

“The overriding message I hear from farmers is the importance of planting the right tree in the right place and that is why we have put that message front and centre of our Tree Strategy.

“Every farm will be different, so we have to take into account tree species, location, soil type, exposure to weather, to ensure we’re putting the best tree in the best place for long-term success and the desired outcome. It also recognises the importance of land for food production, which is so important for an island nation, especially given the challenges ahead in adapting to climate change."

He concluded: “With farmers managing more than 70% of our countryside, we are well placed to step up and contribute towards the government’s ambitious tree planting goals. I would encourage them to work with us to achieve this in a sustainable way that preserves our ability to produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the public.”