Focus on management of native woodlands
The role of native woodland needs to be recognised more fully in long-term policy in terms of permanence and longevity; we need to focus on management of existing woodlands alongside expansion.
Climate Change Plan forestry policies need to be balanced and reflect multiple objectives of forestry so they need to go beyond just woodland expansion and consider how woodland cover will be maintained in the long term.
Research used in Woodland Trust’s ‘State of Woods and Trees’ report showed that ancient woodland can store 30% more carbon compared to the average for other woodland types – so longevity of woodland is an important factor in woodland policy and it is important to think of woodlands beyond 2045.
Recent research from Forest Research showed that different types of woodland have different carbon sequestration potential, with conifers shown to sequester most carbon short term but in the long-term native woodlands catch up significantly. To maximise resilience we need a diversity of species, age, size and silvicultural techniques.
Native woodlands also contribute to climate adaptations, for instance by slowing down water flow and preventing or reducing flooding.
Co-benefits include jobs associated with forestry and woodland management, as well as other operations such as tree nurseries, in addition to contributing to nature recovery and Just Transition in the land-use sector.
For further information:
- Emergency Tree Plan for the UK, Woodland Trust, 2020, https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ publications/2020/01/emergency-tree-plan/
- State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021, Woodland Trust, https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/stateof-uk-woods-and-trees/