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NEWS


Tree planting rise ‘needs to happen quickly’


The committee - made up of experts in science, economics, and business - said this required woodland to increase from 13% of land in the UK to 17%.


Charity the Woodland Trust said this would be equivalent to about 1.5 billion new trees and that future generations would be “let down” by poorer air quality and rising “urban heat” if the committee’s targets were not met.


The CCC said 30,000 hectares (116 sq miles) of new trees are needed per year until 2050. This is equivalent to filling more than 46,000 standard football pitches or a space about three- quarters the size of the Isle of Wight every year.


Ewa Kmietowicz, the CCC's transport and agriculture team leader, said: "The government needs to develop a strategy to meet the 30,000- hectare target and it needs to happen quickly."


However, the CCC said tree planting may need to increase further - to 50,000 hectares per year - if other sectors of the economy including industry and transport do not reduce emissions enough.


Ms Kmietowicz added: “It takes time for trees to grow and absorb carbon. There are many high upfront costs to planting trees.”


The CCC said it had not worked out the point at which tree planting may have to increase to 50,000 hectares per year but “it would depend on all that is happening across the wider economy”.


Significant rises in tree planting in the UK “need to happen quickly” if other targets to cut carbon are not met, government advisers have warned.


The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommends 30,000 hectares of woodland should be planted annually, more than double the new trees planted last year.


And it said this may have to rise to 50,000 hectares if other carbon reduction targets are not achieved.


The government said it planned to “rapidly grow forest cover”, and that it has signed up to the CCC’s goal of the UK of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - as published in the Net Zero technical report.


Figures show almost 13,400 hectares (51.7 sq miles) were planted between April 2018 and March 2019 with the vast majority - 11,210 of which were in Scotland.


England planted about 1,420 hectares, Wales 520 and Northern Ireland 240.


New OPM measures


Tighter measures on the import of oak trees come into force in England to protect the country against oak processionary moth


Strengthened measures on the import of most species of oak into England were introduced to protect native trees from the threat of the tree pest Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) on Monday 15 July.


The bolstered measures will only permit imports of certain oak trees, including:


• those from OPM free countries


• those from designated pest free areas including Protected Zones (PZ) - an area of the European Union declared free of OPM


• those that have been grown under complete physical protection for their lifetime


This Statutory Instrument (SI) builds on measures introduced in August 2018 and applies to all oak trees, except cork oak, over a certain size. This is because these trees represent the greatest likelihood of introducing OPM into the UK PZ, as they are more susceptible to pest populations and more difficult to inspect.


The restrictions will cover both imports from overseas and the movement of trees from areas of the country where OPM is already present - in London and surrounding counties.


The Plant Health Service has received reports of 12 PC August/September 2019


an exceptional expansion of the OPM population in parts of Europe due to the hot weather experienced last year.


The Plant Health Service intercepted findings of Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars on trees recently imported from the Netherlands, and are asking everyone to urgently check recently planted large oak trees.


Dr Anna Brown, Head of Tree Health & Contingency Planning, Forestry Commission, said: “Those of us involved in importing or trading plants must maintain our vigilance against exotic pests and diseases such as OPM. There is a lot we can do such as only buying stock from reputable, responsible suppliers and inspecting imported plants.”


“These stronger requirements will increase our


protection, but my message remains the same: inspect, inspect and inspect again. We can’t check imported plants too often for signs of trouble. Don’t presume that because your supplier found no evidence of a pest or disease that you won’t either. You might spot something that they have missed.”


If you suspect OPM, you should not attempt to destroy or move infected material yourself as the nests and caterpillars can pose some risks to human health.


Visit the Forest Research website for more information on how to identify OPM. To report sightings of pests and diseases, use the TreeAlert online portal.


https://treealert.forestresearch.gov.uk/


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