Trees: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of legal protections for ancient yew trees.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consult (1) members of the public, (2) civil society organisations, and (3) local authorities, on options for increasing legal protections for ancient yew trees.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to recognise ancient yew trees as part of the UK’s national heritage.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has a manifesto commitment to ensure stronger protection for our ancient woodlands and the irreplaceable nature of ancient woodlands is recognised in our 25 Year Environment Plan.

In February 2019 we published the revised National Planning Policy Framework, which strengthens the protection of ancient woodlands by refusing any development that would lead to the deterioration of ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation package exists.

Whilst we do not distinguish between individual tree species, this now reflects the importance of strengthened protection of ancient woodlands, ancient trees and veteran trees, including ancient yew trees, and is a significant milestone in continuing to strengthen the protection of this irreplaceable habitat.

The Government remains committed to making sure that our ancient woodlands are adequately protected and suitably managed to provide a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits.

It was announced in April that the Government would give the Woodland Trust £210,000 to work with Natural England to update the Ancient Woodland Inventory. Having an up-to-date stocktake will make it easier for us all to protect this important habitat and the role it plays in the UK’s national heritage.

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