Politicians must keep promises over tree planting to meet 2050 pledge

“At the last general election, major parties promised an upsurge in planting of new trees – will the winners honour that promise?”

Everyone knows that political promises made during a general election have a strange habit of failing to materialise once a winner is announced. At the last general election, popular promises included major tree planting initiatives (we covered it here) – no doubt stoked by rising concern over the environment, and a recognition that sensibly managed forests are actually a solution to global warming, not a catalyst (again, you can read our views here). But now the chips are down – Boris is in Number 10, and fresh threats loom. Will we ever see the trees we were promised?

The Conservative Party’s pledge for tree planting was the most… well… conservative (presumably, the clue is in the name). But that also means that it is the most realistic. And, at a promised 30,000ha of tree planting per year, it would go a long way towards meeting the UK’s 2050 climate change targets, including the achievement of carbon neutrality. It would, in fact, meet Confor’s “interim” tree-planting target… a full five years earlier than requested!

However, even a conservative pledge in this area is a big jump from what we’re used to. Last year, just 14,000 was planted across the UK. If Mr, Johnson is to keep his pledge, we’ll need to see more than double that number of trees planted per year for the foreseeable future. Its also worth noting that Confor’s “ambitious but achievable” target of planting 40,000ha a year by 2030 is a further step towards success in 2050.

At present, Mr. Johnson’s hands are no doubt full dealing with the coronavirus outbreak – and, of course, he has a new baby to dote on (congratulations, Prime Minister and Miss Symonds). But when Britain comes through the other side of this crisis, and Baby Johnson is sleeping through until morning, let’s all hope that the Conservative Party honours its pledge to get planting!