To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to encourage tree planting and conservation work.
We are committed to planting and establishing 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year in the United Kingdom by the end of this Parliament, backed by the £675 million Nature for Climate Fund. While implementing policy and funding to increase tree planting rates to meet tree planting and net zero targets, we must make sure the right tree is planted in the right place and provides a net benefit to the environment.
The England Trees Action Plan, published in May 2021, set out our plans to deliver our tree planting targets in England, and to make sure that we maximise the benefits of those trees for people, nature and the economy.
As well as establishing new woodlands, we recognise the importance of protecting existing woodlands. We have recently updated the new Keepers of Time policy, providing updates to policy to recognise the value of England’s ancient and native woodlands and ancient and veteran trees. Our Woodlands Into Management innovation funds awarded over £600,000 to successful applicants last year, helping to restore vulnerable woodland habitats, support woodlands to adapt to a changing climate and recover from the impacts of pests and diseases by stimulating innovation.
We also recognise the challenges to our trees and woodlands from rising deer populations and the effect of grey squirrels. This is why work is already underway to address these pressures through the development of a Woodland Resilience Implementation Plan, a national deer management strategy and updating the Grey Squirrel Action Plan.