CLA calls on government to fix barriers to tree planting

The CLA has called on the Government to address the barriers which prevent farmers and landowners from creating more woodland.

The organisation which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses said disappointingly low figures on tree planting across England and Wales published by the Forestry Commission on 16 June, proved that the scheme intended to boost woodlands was simply not working.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “We are disappointed but unsurprised at the low figures for tree planting since the inception of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for woodland creation.

“We have consistently told the Forestry Commission that the scheme was ineffective for farmers and landowners, even to those who want to create woodland. These recent figures prove that to be the case with only 13% of new woodland areas created in England and just 3% across Wales.

“Although most of the new planting took place on private land, many land managers are discouraged from creating woodland due to over regulation of the forestry sector, concerns over Environmental Impact Assessments and the effect on land values. A lack of long-term incentives to compete with agriculture also adds to the many barriers which already make an unattractive choice in land use change even more so.”

Mr Murray added that the CLA had made its concerns known to ministers and was keen to continue working with Defra to find a solution which ensures the scheme can actively help farmers and landowners contribute to meet the Government’s tree planting target of 11 million by 2020.

He said: “Trees are so vital to helping improve water quality and delivering natural flood defences among many other benefits. The Government must address the many barriers to woodland creation if it is to achieve its planting targets.”

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