photo of trees and sunlight

Strength in numbers: our new allies in increasing tree cover 

Thanks to the hard work of campaigners and invaluable help from supporters, our campaign to double tree cover has attracted a new ally. Find out what Friends of the Earth and Water UK are doing to promote more woodland throughout England.
  Published:  20 Oct 2020    |      1 minute read

Back in August, our experts discovered that some of the biggest institutional landowners in England have even less woodland cover on their land than the weak national average of 10%.

Given the importance of trees in tackling climate breakdown (doubling tree cover could remove 10% of the planet-wrecking emissions in the UK each year), we rallied our supporters to act.

50,000 of you signed our open letter calling on landowners like the Duchy of Cornwall and Church Commissioners to grow more trees on their land, and the pressure is starting to pay off.

Following the release of our letter, Water UK (the trade association representing the UK’s major water companies) joined forces with us to lobby government to double tree cover.

Our new ally: Water UK

In a joint letter to Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for the Environment, we’ve urged the government to commit to doubling tree cover and introduce specific tree cover targets across the country.

We also set out several practical steps the government needs to take urgently to incentivise woodland creation, including:

  • Providing an attractive income to farmers who plant trees to encourage uptake
  • Changing the presumption not to plant trees in national parks, and allow upland areas to regenerate naturally
  • Investing in nurseries and growing the native tree supply line
  • And directly funding planting costs this autumn to boost tree planting.

Zac Goldsmith will be attending our virtual Tree Summit on 1 December, so we'll be questioning him on the government's tree targets and asking whether he'll commit to doubling tree cover. We'll also hear from Water UK about their plans to plant millions of trees by 2030.

What you can do next

With your support, we can pressure the government, the country’s biggest landowners, and even those running our national parks to significantly increase tree cover on their estates.

Campaigner Guy Shrubsole says:

"Much of England is owned by a very small number of landowners, who have a responsibility to better use their land in a way that helps address the climate and nature crises facing us all. A big part of this means growing more trees, which would remove planet-wrecking carbon from the air and provide homes for wildlife."

Help keep up the momentum and donate to support our work.