Tree planting remains at the centre of conversations around improving farm resilience to climate change, improving biodiversity, and restoring water quality; the UK Government’s current tree-planting target is to reach 30,000 hectares of woodland planted each year. But it’s not as simple as just putting any old tree in the ground – making sure the right species are planted in the right place is essential.
So, what do we mean by “right tree, right place” and why does it matter?
Often cited as a key action in the fight against climate change, there is enthusiasm across both the public and government schemes to get as many trees in the ground as possible. The National Trust has called for 20 million trees this decade, whilst the Woodland Trust is calling for 50 million trees over half that time. A key initiative to meet the UK Government target of 30,000 hectares a year is the England Woodland Creation Offer (EWCO), which supports farmers, foresters, and landowners to plant new woodland or enable woodland creation through natural re-colonisation. But these targets have been met with calls for planting the “right trees, in the right place, for the right reasons”. The National Farmers Union’s campaign “Right Tree, Right Place” is another example of this mentality.
Underpinning these campaigns are calls to consider the context of the landscape and local habitats as tree planting can have negative impacts on biodiversity if carried out without due attention.
When considering woodland creation, the UK Forestry Standard sets out a list of important considerations:
- Climate change and resilience: Consider the long-term management implications for your woodland.
- Landscape: Landscape character and context is critical: will new woodland enhance or disrupt the landscape’s ecosystems and species?
- Soil: Protecting soils, and avoiding peatland, for example, enhances the sustainability of tree-planting projects.
- Water: Good water quality and forestry can go hand-in-hand, so factoring in flood-risk, potential impact on the water ecosystem and water management is key.
- People: Access to green spaces has been shown to have a huge positive impact on human well-being, so considering how woodland will interact with the local community is important (you can even access extra funding through the EWCO for this – learn more).
- Historic Environment: Considering how the landscape has looked and functioned historically can help to preserve historic characteristics that benefit the wider ecosystem.
- Biodiversity: Before planning projects that alter the biodiversity of your land area, understanding the existing wildlife is essential. Carrying out a biodiversity assessment can be a helpful way of assessing if any priority habitats and species are present, and how they might interact with new woodland.
Understanding the land
All of these considerations require a detailed understanding of the land. This is where Land App excels, allowing users to overlay key data layers showing how a given area of land intersects with Priority Habitat Areas, Peatland, and SSSIs, for example. Our newly introduced EWCO Checker Tool takes this a step further, building in the “rules” for tree planting under EWCO, making understanding this context even more straightforward.
We’re here to help land managers plan sustainable land use in the most effective way possible – so for this year’s National Tree Week and beyond, we’re hoping as many people as possible will use Land App to plant the right trees, in the right place.