The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has published its report on its recent inquiry into ‘Adapting to climate change’. Last Thursday’s report provides welcome recognition that ‘adapting to climate change is at least as essential as cutting greenhouse gas emissions’ and that ‘uncertainty over the impacts of climate change is not a reason for inaction or delay’.
We are all reliant on the natural world for the services that it provides. Urgent steps to maintain and enhance its resilience are needed, irrespective of the extent, rate or direction of climate change.
We particularly welcome the Committee’s conclusion, highlighted in its press release, that increasing tree cover as part of green infrastructure must also be promoted.
We also agree with the Committee’s recommendations that:
- In updating its planning guidance on open spaces, sport and recreation, the Government must set out the strategic role green infrastructure should play in climate change adaptation.
- The Government should promote green infrastructure as part of the National Adaptation Programme.
- Departments must deliver green infrastructure that supports adaptation and wider policy objectives by working more effectively across departmental boundaries.
- Government aligns the work of key departments on green infrastructure, and identifies a department to act as a green infrastructure champion.
Although the committee states that ‘the country needs to respond flexibly to the risks we face’ the urgency to act is well-illustrated by the time that it takes a tree to grow. As one of the least-wooded countries in Europe, there is a need to crack on now with establishing new native woodland and trees in the UK on a large scale if we are to ensure the timely restoration of landscapes better able to absorb and respond to change.
In the meantime our 2010 general election manifesto ‘Growing the Future’ has been launched. The Woodland Trust is asking all political parties to recognise the importance of native woods and trees for tackling the major challenges we face – you can use our new quick-click online tool to demonstrate your support, too.
Richard Smithers, Senior Conservation Adviser, Woodland Trust.
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