The UK needs more trees – and where better to start than in those jewels in the crown of our landscape, the National Parks?
That’s why we’re delighted to see they are being urged to create more woodland, in the Government’s new vision for National Parks in England which has been published this week. The Woodland Trust made a strong case for woodland creation in its response to Defra’s consultation on the draft vision, and it looks as if it has made a very positive difference to the final document.
Protected for their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage, our National Parks are a national asset. The National Park authorities are in a position to lead the way in creating landscapes of the future; working landscapes that can provide us with the necessities of life – food, fuel, fibre, and places for rest and recreation – yet retain their unique identity and support thriving wildlife communities.
Trees have a major role to play in this. Trees and woodland store carbon, can improve air and water quality, help alleviate flooding, and provide shade and shelter. And native woods in particular form some of our richest wildlife habitats.
But with only 11.8 per cent woodland cover, the UK needs more trees.
This week Defra published its vision for National Parks for the next 20 years. The National Parks and Broads Circular and Vision Statement asserts that by 2030 our National Parks will be, among other things, places where woodland cover has increased. It says that “planting rates in England have declined over recent years and there is an urgent need to reverse this decline and deliver a significant increase in woodland created.”
We can only agree, and urge National Park authorities to take up the challenge. Where they lead, others may follow.
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