The governments of England, Wales and Scotland spend less than £1 per person per year on trees, new analysis by Friends of the Earth has shown. This drops to just twenty pence per head in England. Scotland has increased its forestry budgets for 2019-20.
Friends of the Earth is campaigning for UK tree cover to be doubled as part of the fight against the climate crisis.
The environmental group estimates that doubling tree cover will require public investment of approximately £500m per year – around ten times current government spending on trees.
The analysis shows that funding in England fell by 43 percent to £13.5 million during the year 2017-18, meaning just 20p per head was spent on trees.
UK-wide funding for tree planting, woodlands and forestry has been declining in recent years, following a relative high point in 2013-14 of £73.5 million, to £56.1 million in 2017-18. But Wales and Scotland have seen funding increases, but still lower than respective high points of 2012-13 and 2014-15.
Emi Murphy, trees campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This National Tree Week we’re calling for the next UK government to properly fund the doubling of tree cover. This is one of the key solutions to solving the climate crisis but has been shockingly underfunded for years.
“Faced with the climate emergency, and the dire impacts it will bring, we simply cannot afford not to fund trees.”
Sanjay Singh, senior programmes advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery, which is supplying thousands of trees for Friends of the Earth planting events, said: “We’re facing a climate and nature crisis and it’s local communities leading the fight to protect woodlands and plant more trees.
"Our players are funding a range of tree-planting initiatives across the country, and I’m pleased that they are also are able to support this crucial part of the fight against climate breakdown.”
Friends of the Earth is supporting community tree planting events in Oxford, Enfield, Manchester and Nottingham during National Tree Week, 23-30 November.
For more information on these see the events section on the Friends of the Earth Facebook page.
This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.