The UK has just three decades to reach net-zero emissions and tree planting has emerged as a prominent part of the government’s plan to get there. With technological solutions in their infancy, trees are for now the only scalable “negative emissions” strategy and can come with additional benefits for wildlife, flood management and health. Moreover, there is strong public support for tree planting to tackle climate change. This was evident during the last general election, when parties competed to produce ever-more ambitious afforestation targets. The recent budget saw new chancellor Rishi Sunak announce a forest “the size of Birmingham” across England, a contribution to the wider UK target to plant 30,000 new hectares every year. But the apparent simplicity of planting trees to “suck” carbon from the atmosphere masks a highly complex issue. Forests are not a “silver bullet” for cutting CO2 emissions and previous drives to ramp up UK afforestation have not always gone smoothly.
Carbon Brief 18th March 2020 read more »