Farmers need more certainty and support from to help achieve UK tree planting targets, MPs say, as concerns rise over the government's 'troubling lack of clarity'.
In a new report, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) says a 'steep climb' in planting rates is needed to meet current targets.
The government is aiming to create 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year in the UK by 2025.
But MPs who sit on the committee say the current performance indicates a rapid increase in planting rates would be required to reach this target.
The cross-party group warns the government "has not set a clear goal for England’s contribution, which will probably require trebling its planting rate."
It calls for more comprehensive annual planting targets, better finance schemes and more accurate mapping if the government is to achieve its aim.
Expecting farmers, growers and landowners to forge ahead without more support is 'simply not realistic', MPs warn.
Setting annual targets for England’s contribution to the target would provide certainty to the sector, their report explains.
And planting ‘the right tree in the right place’ will be critical to the government’s net zero, nature recovery and biodiversity goals.
The report calls on Defra to set out a plan for completing the detailed mapping work required to ensure trees are planted in beneficial locations.
Government must help local authorities to manage competing priorities for land use by producing more comprehensive guidance on creating Local Nature Recovery Strategies.
Planting trees must be economically viable. The report calls on Defra to publish and invite comments on the modelling which underpins new incentive regimes, to offer financial certainty to kickstart planting.
A key barrier to England’s tree planting ambitions will be the lack of a sufficiently skilled workforce. EFRA calls on Defra to establish a dedicated taskforce of at least 300 new recruits into woodland creation roles.
Chair of EFRA, Neil Parish, said that 'crucial details were still missing' - including the types of trees to plant, the land they will be planted on and the finance for the projects.
“Government must demonstrate its working to demonstrate how tree planting is economically viable," the MP said.
"As it stands, this plan does not even have annual targets for the number of hectares of new woodland to be planted in England.
“If we want tree planting to pay for itself, clear incentives for action are required - both in government subsidies for planting, and from timber sales."
He added that farmers needed more certainty to plan ahead: "There is a troubling lack of clarity about government plans – how, what and who will deliver England’s tree planting ambitions."