The government has set out its long-term vision for tree planting but, though farmers are the custodians of the countryside, they are not much-referenced in the document. Our NFU Tree Strategy highlights the need for planting the right tree in the right place. Find out what Richard Bramley, NFU Environment Forum Chair thinks as we launch this important new document.
Our tree planting principle ensures that the right tree species are selected, appropriately sourced to match the location, and maximises successful long-term objectives. Importantly it also recognises the importance of land for food production.
Tree planting policy
The NFU’s Tree Strategy also sets out other key aspects that must be considered when government is developing new tree planting policy:
- Recognition of the importance of bringing existing woodland back into active management.
- The need for the government to address existing barriers to tree planting, particularly existing tenancy clauses which prevent 30% of our agricultural land from engaging in tree planting.
- The need for increased recognition and incentives for trees outside of woodland, which contribute hugely to our natural environment and act as important carbon sinks.
Tree planting target
Commenting from the Great Yorkshire Show, NFU environment forum chairman Richard Bramley said: “Farmers right across the country understand just how important trees, hedgerows and woodland are, and recognise that there is a clear target to increase tree planting.
“They offer obvious benefits to the environment, particularly how they can contribute to British farming reaching its 2040 net zero ambition, but they are also invaluable for our farmland; providing field boundaries or offering shade to cows and sheep during the summer months.
“The overriding message I hear from farmers is the importance of planting the right tree in the right place and that is why we have put that message front and centre of our Tree Strategy.”
Tailored approach needed
We recognise that every farm will be different. Richard explains that we have to take into account:
- tree species
- soil type
- exposure to weather.
This ensures we’re putting the best tree in the best place for long-term success and the desired outcome.
Hand in hand with food production
It also recognises the importance of land for food production. “This is so important for an island nation,” he said, “especially given the challenges ahead in adapting to climate change. With farmers managing more than 70% of our countryside, we are well placed to step up and contribute towards the government’s ambitious tree planting goals. I would encourage them to work with us to achieve this in a sustainable way that preserves our ability to produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the public.”