On Tuesday last week woods and trees were one of the key issues of the day in Parliament, and the Woodland Trust’s manifesto was commended in Westminster Hall. At very short notice, Paddy Tipping MP secured a 30 minute ‘adjournment debate’ to discuss native woodland, during which he championed the Trust’s ambition of doubling native woodland cover in the UK.
Introducing our general election manifesto ‘Growing the Future’ to the chamber, Paddy Tipping also discussed carbon sequestration and talked very warmly about our plans for a new native forest at Heartwood – an 850 acre woodland which, once completed, will be the largest new native forest in England. You can read the full text of the debate here.
Doubling native woodland cover will require political leadership to harness the potential of the public, private and charitable sectors. It was great to hear Paddy set out the case for doubling native woodland cover especially as adjournment debates offer an important opportunity for a subject to receive a ministerial statement on the topic.
Jim Fitzpatrick, Defra Minister of State, replied for the Government in place of forestry minister, Huw Irranca–Davies, who couldn’t make the debate at such short notice. He made a number of important points on the record:
- That the Government are ‘determined to create a step change in domestic woodland creation’ and are working at how to stimulate private investment
- That Defra has been developing policies in response to the Read report ‘but there is more work to be done to ensure we have a clear mechanism to pay for more woodland creation’
- That woods will ‘become increasingly important to enhance the English landscape’s resilience to climate change’
- That ‘native trees are exceptionally important’ to the Government and that they are ‘determined to put plans in place to increase native woodland ‘cover’.
We also wrote in e-Politix about the debate. The Trust wants all the main parties to pursue new native woodland creation as a priority in the next Parliament, recognising that this isn’t a luxury but a key tool in meeting some of the major policy challenges around climate change, public health and shaping the kind of places where people will want to live, work and spend their leisure time.
Please share your thoughts and comments with us – and keep an eye out for the official launch of our manifesto, coming soon!