Tree planting: Public urged to plant native species to celebrate Queen’s platinum jubilee

Levels of planting during 2020 are well below what they were last year, despite worsening environmental crisis

Harry Cockburn
Monday 30 November 2020 15:31
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<p>The Queen planting a tree in Edinburgh on 29 November 2020</p>

The Queen planting a tree in Edinburgh on 29 November 2020

Rates of tree planting across the UK are far below the level needed to meet the targets required for the country to tackle the climate crisis, but it is hoped a campaign to mark the the Queen’s platinum jubilee - her 70th year on the throne - can help boost tree cover.

The initiative, called “The Queen’s Green Canopy”, invites people across the UK to plant a tree to mark the monarch’s milestone, which she will hit in 2022.

The project will help communities, charities, schools and other organisations plant species of native trees suitable for their local environments.

Elizabeth II has planted more than 1,500 trees in countries around the world, and organisers of the campaign said it was a “fitting way” to celebrate her reign.

The project is led by the Cool Earth charity in partnership with the government and The Woodland Trust, and has been announced to mark the beginning of National Tree Week, the beginning of the winter tree-planting season.

In a statement, Boris Johnson said: “This difficult year has reminded us all of the importance of the nature and green spaces that surround us.

“Trees have the potential to transform our communities, connect us with nature and provide homes for precious wildlife.

“They also have a huge role to play in tackling climate change as we build back greener from the pandemic.”

The prime minister added: “As we celebrate Her Majesty's incredible 70 years of service, I encourage everyone to get behind this scheme, and go ‘plant a tree for the jubilee’.”

The announcement comes during National Tree Week, the UK’s largest annual tree celebration which the start of the winter tree-planting season.

Sir William Worsley, chairman of the Forestry Commission, said: “The value of trees has never been clearer and at a time where we must do everything we can to not only tackle climate change, but also adapt to its impacts, I would urge everyone to pick up a spade and plant a tree for the jubilee.”

England planted just 763 hectares of new forest from April to September of this year, official data shows, which is the equivalent of some 1.3 million trees.  

This is only about 70 per cent of the area planted in England in the first half of 2019, according to a government report.

Some 5,000 hectares of new forest will need to be planted across England every year from 2020 to 2025 in order for the UK to meet its climate targets, according to the government’s independent climate advisers.

And this figure will need to rise to 10,000 hectares after 2025, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The Queen’s Green Canopy is not the only campaign the royal family is involved with at the moment.

Prince Charles - also no stranger to tree planting - is calling on people to back the BBC’s Countryfile campaign which is aiming to plant 750,000 trees and help the UK meet its climate targets.

On Countryfile, Charles said: “Planting a tree means leaving a lasting legacy, one that my and your children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy long after I am gone.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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