'Right tree in right place': NFU unveils new woodland strategy

The new tree strategy stresses the importance of planting the right tree in the right place
The new tree strategy stresses the importance of planting the right tree in the right place

Farmers are highlighting the importance of planting the 'right tree in the right place' as part of a new campaign launched by the NFU.

The strategy says the right tree species must be selected and appropriately sourced to match the location while maximising long-term objectives.

It also highlights the importance of keeping land for food production, especially given the challenges ahead in adapting to climate change.

Every farm will be different, the union says, and factors that must be taken into account include tree species, location, soil type and exposure to weather.

It comes as the government recently published the long-awaited England Trees Action Plan (ETAP), providing a new framework to encourage tree planting.

While the NFU welcomed the plan, it says there are 'little reference to farmers', many of whom are 'in the driving seat'.

"70% of the land in England is managed by farmers, if the tree planting goals are to be achieved, we need our farmers, as custodians of the countryside, to be on board and recognised," said Richard Bramley, NFU environment forum chairman.

“The overriding message I hear from farmers is the importance of planting the right tree in the right place and that is why we have put that message front and centre of our tree strategy.”

The campaign also seeks more recognition of the importance of bringing existing woodland back into active management.

It asks the government to address present barriers to tree planting, particularly tenancy clauses which prevent 30% of agricultural land from engaging in tree planting.

And there is a need for increased recognition and incentives for trees outside of woodland, which contribute to the environment and act as important carbon sinks.

Mr Bramley said: “Farmers understand just how important trees, hedgerows and woodland are, and recognise that there is a clear target to increase tree planting.

“They offer obvious benefits to the environment, particularly how they can contribute to British farming reaching its 2040 net zero ambition,.

"But they are also invaluable for our farmland; providing field boundaries or offering shade to cows and sheep during the summer months."

The strategy also recognises the importance of land for food production, something which Mr Bramley said was 'so important for an island nation'.

"I would encourage them to work with us to achieve this in a sustainable way that preserves our ability to produce high-quality, climate-friendly food for the public.”

This NFU's tree strategy covers England only, encompassing woodland creation, agroforestry, trees in the wider landscape and hedgerow planting and management.