We are struggling to save trees. Our record in Ludlow is appalling. Trees have been lost with abandon on the conservation area. More than 100 decent trees are to be felled on Foldgate Lane. Hedges have been netted ahead of being cleared. We are denuding our landscape.
We need to turn this around. We are in a climate emergency. We face a biodiversity crisis. We must plant at least ten trees for every one we fell. Let’s plant a huge forest.
First, we need to get the political and bureaucratic support. That’s why Lib Dems and Greens have tabled a motion at next Thursday’s meeting of Shropshire Council. It calls for doubling of Shropshire’s woodland cover. We hope it will get unanimous support from councillors of all parties.
Julian Dean is Green Party councillor for Porthill in Shrewsbury. He said:
“We have to inject a sense of emergency into the council’s declaration of climate emergency back in May. We know that trees are important ways of storing carbon. Trees can also create an attractive countryside, where people can relax, stroll and promote their health and wellbeing.
“We can’t just talk about the climate emergency. We need to act. There are a lot of short term actions we can take. But we must also plan for long term ways of reducing carbon in the atmosphere. Doubling woodland will take years, maybe decades. We must be ambitious and get on with it without delay.”
Andy Boddington (that’s me) said:
“We can’t act on our own to plant the number of trees we need. We need a huge effort along Offa’s Dyke to create attractive broadleaf woodland. This initiative should involve Powys as well as Shropshire and Herefordshire. Maybe Worcestershire too. The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership must be involved.
“We need to think big. We need to recognise that planting trees creates an economic resource. Trees supply construction materials. They promote biodiversity. They are a source of fuel. They attract tourists. They inspire new businesses.
“The climate emergency is real. The time to act is now.”
In July, the Committee on Climate Change recommended that the UK plants 30,000 hectares of trees a year. The committee warned that if carbon reduction measures are not delivered rapidly, we will need to plant 50,000 hectares a year. In November, the UN Environment Programme called for a faster reduction in greenhouse gases. There is a consensus that planting trees can help us achieve the UK’s goal of net zero by 2050 at the latest.
Well managed broadleaf woodlands promote biodiversity. They boost tourism. They are a public good.
No one doubts that doubling woodland cover will be a major challenge. Introducing a public money for public goods system to support farmers and landowners requires national legislation. Local authorities have limited resources and expertise is thinly spread. But there is potential for groups of local authorities to work together, supported by wildlife charities and experts, to develop regional policies for increasing woodland cover. Councils either side of Offa’s Dyke through the Marches would be ideal partners.
This council requests its leader and the portfolio holder for climate change to work with other local authorities to develop plans to double woodland cover in the Marches by 2050.
Woodlands have many benefits. They create a carbon reservoir that helps slow climate change. They boost wildlife and help promote public health. Woodlands are a major economic resource, providing material for construction and power. Woodlands support jobs.