A new report from the Woodland Trust shows that it could be “severely damaged” if issues aren’t tackled. The UK woods are approaching a crisis point although the woodland cover is increasing, the wildlife within it is decreasing.
The study claims that not enough is being done to create ‘resilient’ native woodland, with just 7% of the country’s native UK woodland in a good ecological condition.
Native woodland needs protection from threats such as imported diseases, invasive plants and direct loss of woodland to development such as housing, roads, according to the report. Native woodlands help curb carbon emissions and reverse wildlife decline. Failing to address the issue will undermine efforts to tackle climate and nature crises, the charity warned.
Woodland covers 13.2% of the UK’s land area, with around half of it made up of native habita,t including ancient woodland. The government plans to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025 in the UK to help tackle climate change. Woodland Trust’s Director of Conservation and External Affairs, Abi Bunker, said that there was “no success in hitting creation targets if our existing woods and trees are struggling and in decline”.
And she cautioned: “We take them for granted because of their longevity, they are resilient, and they have been resilient over millennia, some of them, and hundreds of years, but there’s only so much they can cope with.
The report continued: “There is hope, however, if we can learn from and extend the influence of many inspiring local initiatives, highlight best practice, and build a stronger evidence base.”
A spokesperson for the Environment Department (Defra) said: “As part of our ambitious environmental programme, we have committed to increase woodland creation across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025, as well as protecting existing woodlands.
“We have already announced the Nature for Climate Fund and will shortly publish our action plan for trees and woodland, which will help us meet this target by ensuring we plant new high-quality, well-managed woodlands and improve the condition and resilience of existing ones.”