Forests and Peat Bogs: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 19th July 2021.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all (1) removal of forest and woodland cover, and (2) peat extraction, is balanced by new or replacement planting.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The recently published England Trees Action Plan and England Peat Action Plan set out our ambitions to massively increase woodland creation, peatland restoration, and their protection and management in support of Net Zero commitments and nature recovery. This is being kickstarted using the £640m Nature for Climate Fund.

The Government has a general policy against permanent loss of woodland and tree cover, and the management and felling of trees is managed through the felling licence regime. We have developed the National Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards to help local authorities, developers and communities improve greening provisions in their areas.

The Government open habitat policy helps balancing conversion of woodland to open habitat and protection of existing woodland, to generate landscapes that provide benefits for people and wildlife for the 21st century.

There are an estimated 24 extraction licences currently in operation in England and each extraction permission already contains a condition requiring the restoration of the site at the conclusion of the permission to ensure a return over time to as near a natural state as possible. We have taken action to tackle domestic extraction of peat which includes the National Planning Policy Framework, first published in 2012. This ends the granting of licences for peat extraction on new sites or extensions to existing sites and peat extraction in England will therefore end when those remaining licenses expire. Peatland restoration has already begun on some sites.

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