Sandy Martin, MP for Ipswich, joined Confor, the forestry industry body, and the Woodland Trust, the environmental charity, to discuss how trees can help deal with the Climate Emergency.
Forestry in the UK already has a £2 billion turnover, and provides 70,000 jobs, but there is huge scope for expansion. Speakers called for a balance between improving the habitat for wildlife and growing trees for commercial use, but all were agreed that we need more of both. Native broadleaf trees provide space for a rich variety of species to flourish.
Tree planting can make a huge contribution to reducing flash flooding in sensitive areas too. Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere by using sunlight to turn CO2 and water into wood. Confor and the Woodland Trust are both urging everyone to Think Global, Plant Local to tackle the Climate Emergency. The industry also aims to reduce our reliance on timber imports which are the second highest in the world (second only to China). Yet tree planting rates in England & Wales are dismally low - more than 80 per cent of all UK planting last year happened in Scotland. All agreed that we need to plant productive forestry at scale in areas like Northumberland.
Sandy Martin said:
“Increasing the use of timber in construction would be good for the green economy, help provide new homes, and make a massive contribution to reducing our net carbon emissions by locking up Co2 in the wood in our buildings. Using timber in buildings also helps reduce high-energy-use materials such as concrete. There is absolutely no need for conflict between growing trees for habitat and leisure, and growing trees for commercial timber – we need to do both.
"I am immensely heartened by Labour’s commitment to grow significantly more trees across the country, including the pledge to plant 1 million more trees on the NHS estate – we can and must grow more trees everywhere.”