The NFU in England and Wales has urged the Government to adopt a “right tree in the right place” approach to forestry legislation.
The union made the comments as it launched its Tree Strategy at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.
The strategy calls for future tree planting legislation to ensure the right tree species are selected and appropriately sourced to match the location, and for more incentives to encourage landowners and farmers to bring existing woodland back into active management.
It says bringing existing woodlands back into management should be a priority over encouraging new plantings, and the UK Government must take steps to address existing barriers to tree planting such as clauses in farm tenancy agreements which prevent tenants from planting trees.
The strategy also calls for support for the UK tree nursery sector and for any tree planting schemes to encourage the use of British sourced and grown saplings.
Farming and trees
“Farmers right cross the country understand just how important trees, hedgerows and woodland are, and recognise that there is a clear target to increase tree planting,” said NFU environment forum chairman, Richard Bramley.
“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 bo9undaries or offering shade to cows and sheep during the summer months.”
He said the overarching message he was hearing from farmers across the country was the importance of planting “the right tree in the right place”.
“With farmers managing more than 70% of our countryside, we are well placed to step up and contribute towards the government’s ambitious tree planting goals,” added Mr Bramley.
“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.”
Scottish farming union, NFU Scotland, has also been calling for policy to focus on planting the right tree in the right place.
The union’s vice-president, Andrew Connon, has spoken out against whole farm afforestation and urged the government to rethink its fixation with planting trees.
Forestry trade body Confor‘s chief executive, Stuart Goodall, says forestry and farming can exist side-by-side.
He said: “About 5.65 million hectares of Scotland’s 8m hectares of land is used for farming. Scotland’s forests cover 18.8% of the total land mass and the ambition contained in the Scottish Government’s forestry strategy is to increase this to 21% by 2032.”