New statistics show Government off-track on tree targets

Matt Williams is available for interview or comment.

Profile picture of George Smeeton

By George Smeeton

Last updated:

The Government has released its final statistics for the number of trees planted in the winter of 2021-22 [1]. It set itself a target of 30,000 hectares of new trees being planted every year by 2025. To get there, it would need to be closing the gap from around 13,000 hectares of planting when it announced the target, and last winter around 17,000 hectares would need to have been planted to be on track.

The new statistics published today show that tree planting is flatlining, at 13,700 hectares in 2019-20, 13,300 hectares in 2020-21, and 13,800 hectares in 2021-22.

Matt Williams, Climate and Land Programme Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: "Trees slow down the flow of water, preventing flooding and provide vital shade for livestock during very hot weather, as we saw earlier in the year. Other countries, even just over the border in Scotland, are able to restore their forests and woodlands, but England seems unable to do so. The Government needs to consider why it keeps failing to meet the tree targets it is setting.

"The new net zero farming system [2] will reward farmers who incorporate more trees alongside food production, in fields with livestock or through agro-forestry planting trees amidst crops."

Notes to editors:

1. The Government's new forestry statistics published 29 September 2022

2. The Environmental land management schemes (ELMS) are the planned post-Brexit farming support subsidies: The Government signalled recently that it plans to review these schemes, sparking concern from environment and conservation groups:

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: