Tories and Lib Dems pledge rival tree planting targets

The Conservative Party has pledged to plant 30 million trees every year by 2025 as part of its election promises, but the Liberal Democrats have said they would plant double the number should they be elected.

Last week, the Conservatives promised the electorate that if re-elected they would make £640m available as part of its “nature for climate fund” to restore peatland and treble tree-planting rates by the end of the next parliament in 2025, meaning 30,000 hectares of England will be reforested every year, something not achieved since 1989. 

The target is in line with the advice from the government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which argues that forest cover in the UK will need to increase from the existing 13% to 19% by 2050, saving 8-18 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

While the targets only apply to England, resulting in the expansion of the Northern Forest in north-west England and the Great Northumberland Forest, the Conservatives said would work with the government’s of devolved nations to encourage planting rates there. 

But recent analysis carried out by The ENDS Report shows that the Conservative government was already failing by a wide margin of 71% to hit its aspirational target of planting 5,000 hectares of land in England every year. 

Labour's shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman said the Conservative Party's failure to meet previous tree-planting targets showed they weren't serious about the matter. The Labour party is yet to announce its tree-planting ambitions. 

The Lib Dems have pledged to plant 40,000 hectares - or 60 million trees - every year, a move that would increase forest cover by one million hectares by 2045, the same year they have pledged to see the UK achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

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