Tree shortage looms as UK government plans to plant 30,000 hectares

DIDCOT, UK: HTA Board member Brian Fraser appeared before the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee on Tuesday 15 June to give evidence to the panel outlining the industry view that the Government’s failure to engage with the sector before setting targets for tree planting will mean that they will most likely miss these targets as growers cannot meet demand in the time frame outlined.

Fraser, who is also a member of the HTA’s Tree and Hedging Group and Director of Oakover Nursery in Ashford, Kent, explained that there are not enough trees in production at present to enable the target of 30,000ha to be planted by 2024 to be met.

Brian Fraser said: “The Government needs to urgently work and engage fully with the industry to bring the Nursery Notification Scheme to reality and provide the confidence in the market that growers need. This is through ensuring that landowners have sufficient incentives to plant trees on enough land to meet the targets. The timeframe of only two growing seasons to meet this target is just not achievable without support. It is not just a ‘numbers game’ though. It needs to be a plan that recognises the importance of urban planting and maintenance of those trees if the Government are going to properly back UK tree producers.”

James Clark, HTA Director of Policy and Communications at the HTA said: “We all know how crucial tree planting is to tackling climate change and achieving Net Zero. This is a plan that needs to be embedded across Government – ensuring any targets announced are realistic and achievable. Policy decisions around skills and labour, including seasonal workers, along with planning and trade with the EU, are so important not only to delivering a leading tree planting agenda, but for the wider ornamental horticulture sector to generate increased economic growth to ‘build back greener’.”

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