Comment on Government nature restoration plans

Published:18 May 2021

Commenting on new Government nature restoration plans, including proposals to protect peatlands and create more woodlands, Matt Williams, Climate and Land Programme Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: "Restoring peatlands and woodlands can be one of the cornerstones in Defra's strategy to support the government’s net zero target. Nature should be our ally in soaking up carbon emissions but at the moment much of our land is in such poor health that overall it is actually releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The UK's credibility as host of COP26, and encouraging other countries to tackle deforestation, will be enhanced if it can make strides in creating new woodlands and restoring peatlands.

"Plans to restore 35,000 hectares of peat are important commitments, but don't go further than previous Government announcements. Planting 6000 hectares of new woodland in England by 2025 would be a start but with the Climate Change Committee recommending boosting tree cover for the UK as a whole from 13% to 18% by 2050, long-term policy certainty is needed. Making sure that farmers are part of tree planting plans from the word go is critical. New funding for agroforestry - incorporating more trees into fields and farms - is welcome but to ensure this happens farmers must be adequately supported and rewarded in their efforts to cut emissions and restore nature."