Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson will plant a tree in Hampstead today (Saturday 16 November), as the party announces ambitious proposals to undertake the largest tree-planting programme in UK history. A Liberal Democrat government will plant 60 million trees every year, increasing UK forest cover by 1 million hectares by 2045.
Just 13% of the UK is currently covered by woodland, far below the European Union average of 35%. The Conservatives have woefully failed to meet their own targets for planting trees in the past year. Only 1,420 hectares of trees were planted in England in the year to March 2019, 71% short of the Conservative government’s target of 5,000 hectares for the same period.
Planting trees is one of the most viable ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere and is vital for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative will be a key part of the Liberal Democrat party's plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and to halve emissions by 2030 compared to today.
Reforesting will have other benefits such as helping reverse our declining biodiversity, reducing air pollution and improving public spaces. It will also increase use of timber products in construction, which capture carbon and reduce construction emissions.
Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat Leader said:
“The climate emergency is destroying our natural environment and threatening our children’s futures. We will tackle the climate emergency by taking bold action to rapidly reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible, and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
“Our plan includes the largest tree-planting programme in UK history, which will green our towns and countryside to absorb damaging emissions. This will help us reach net-zero emissions, and will nurture biodiversity, combat air pollution and improve public spaces.
“It’s clear that the Conservative Party doesn’t take climate change seriously. Only the Liberal Democrats have a radical plan to make a real impact in the fight against climate change and build a brighter future for our planet.”