Water UK and Friends of the Earth call for targets to double tree cover

Water UK and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have called on the government to introduce tree planting targets that will double England’s tree cover.


In a letter to environment minister, Lord Zac Goldsmith, Water UK chief executive, Christine McGourty, and FoE co-chief executives, Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles, argued the measures proposed in the draft England Tree Strategy recently published for consultation would only increase England’s woodland cover from 10% today to just 12% by 2050.


Alongside targets, the letter called for the avoidance of inappropriate planting that can lead to the loss of other habitats and land uses, including peatland; and for the government to urgently address barriers that constrain woodland creation – particularly around the efficient deployment of different funding sources. This included:

  • providing an income to landowners who plant trees on farmland at an attractive rate for uptake;

  • changing the presumption not to plant trees in national parks, and allow for natural regeneration in the uplands;

  • investing in nurseries and growing the native tree supply line in the UK; and

  • ensuring a step change over the short term by directly funding planting costs to generate an increase in tree planting this autumn.

The water industry has committed to planting 11m trees by 2030.