Tree planting targets unlikely to be achieved

11 Jan 2024

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee has found that it is extremely unlikely that the Government’s target of planting 30,000 hectares of woodland in the UK by March 2025 will be achieved.  


The 30,000 hectare total is the target for the whole of the UK, with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each having their own target. In England, the target is to plant at least 7,500 hectares of woodland per year by 2024/25. However, only 3,627 hectares of new woodland, including on farmland, were established in 2022/23. The Committee also expressed disappointment that Forestry England has so far planted only 303 hectares against its own target of 2,000 hectares between 2021 and 2026.  


The Committee recommended that overlapping initiatives and schemes should be integrated into a single, holistic strategy. The private sector will be responsible for the bulk of the planting, but needs a clearer vision from the Government. 


The Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which assesses the progress of major government schemes, downgraded the rating of the Nature for Climate Fund (NCF) to red, which means that the successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable. The NCF was established to increase tree planting, woodland creation and peatland restoration in England.  


Defra insisted that it was seeing positive engagement from farmers, landowners and the private sector and that it was making good progress towards tree planting targets. It stressed that farmers had a vital role in increasing tree cover. Defra also highlighted that the Environmental Land Management scheme will include an offer for in-field agroforestry, which will be available from 2024. 


Read more about the targets here: and 

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