National Charity the Woodland Trust has released the State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021, a first of it’s kind report laying out the facts and trends on the current state of the UK’s native woods and trees.

By understanding their current state effective plans can be made to protect and recover natural areas, as well as provide data that helps raise awareness of their vital role in tackling climate change.

The full 245 page report can be found here: State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021

Key findings – at a glance

The Trust’s work and analysis has highlighted four significant findings. Below are their key findings, shown as stated on their website:

1. Woodland cover is gradually increasing, but woodland wildlife is decreasing

“The trends for the UKs woods and trees are concerning. The UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, but much of this is non-native trees. Existing native woodlands are isolated, in poor ecological condition and there has been a decline in woodland wildlife.”

3. Woods and trees are subject to a barrage of threats

“Threats range from direct woodland loss to more insidious influences from climate impacts, imported diseases, invasive plants, mammal browsing and air pollutants.”

2. Woods and trees are vital for a healthy happy society

“They lock up carbon to fight climate change, improve our health, wellbeing and education, reduce pollution and flooding, and support people, wildlife and livestock.”

4. Not nearly enough is being done

“The report is a loud and clear warning sign that more needs to be done to protect and expand our woods and trees.

We urgently need to scale up the many inspiring initiatives to create native woods, put more individual trees back in the landscape, and restore damaged woods.”

Recommendations

The findings have helped the Trust prioritise and recommend the following actions:

  • Expand woodland tree cover by at least 400%
  • Enhance and protect existing woods and trees
  • Improve the evidence with systematic woodland and tree monitoring
  • Invest time, money and people to ensure future opportunities are created

So what is already being done?

Although UK tree cover is increasing, it needs to increase much more rapidly, and focus more on native trees.

Tree cover on farmland is increasing but only 3.3% of agricultural land in the UK is currently under agroforestry.

The UK and Ireland Sourced and Grown (UKISG) standards are producing millions of home-grown trees, but they cannot keep up with demand.

Ancient woodlands are being restored, but progress is slow and huge areas remain in critical or threatened condition.

UK woodlands are key to biodiversity, reducing the effects of climate change, and for human wellbeing. We should all do our part to protect woodland and ancient trees in our own county as well as further afield.

The report shows that progress is being made, but far too slowly. It provides clear evidence that there is an urgent need to act now across the UK.

If you would like to take part in protecting woodland in your region, get in touch with the Woodland Trust for more info.

Caroline Talbot
Author: Caroline Talbot