Let’s grow for it! Planting of trees is to treble by 2025 as ministers ban peat-based compost in huge eco drive
- Government plans to plant 7,000 hectares of woodlands annually by end of 2024
- George Eustice is set to announce funds to restore 35,000 hectares of peatlands
- Garden centres will face fines for selling peat-based compost under the curbs
Tree planting is set to treble and precious peat bog habitats are to be protected, the Government will announce today.
In what is being called the Tories’ ‘nature moment’, George Eustice will outline plans to create 7,000 hectares of woodlands annually by the end of 2024 – the equivalent of 20million new trees.
Making the announcement on a visit to Delamere Forest in Cheshire the Environment Secretary will also announce fresh funding to restore 35,000 hectares of degraded peatlands in England over the next four years.
Garden centres will face large fines for continuing to sell peat-based compost under the curbs which are proposed to take effect by May 2024.
George Eustice (pictured) will outline plans to create 7,000 hectares of woodlands annually by the end of 2024 – the equivalent of 20million new trees
Peat takes thousands of years to form and stores carbon as layers of moss build up in bogs, helping in the battle against climate change.
But it releases the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane when it is dug up or damaged.
Campaigners and environmentalists, including Daily Mail columnist Monty Don, have long argued we must stop stripping bogs bare to create an ingredient for compost.
Mr Eustice will say: ‘Peatlands are our biggest terrestrial carbon store and home to some of our rarest species, including bitterns, swallowtail butterfly, carnivorous sundews, hen harriers and short-eared owls.
‘But only 13 per cent of our peatlands are in a near-natural state.’ The UK’s 2.6million hectares of peatland contain about 3billion tons of carbon.
Campaigners say that digging up peat for compost emits 400,000 tons of carbon every year – the equivalent of putting hundreds of thousands of extra cars on the road.
The Environment Secretary will also announce fresh funding to restore 35,000 hectares of degraded peatlands in England over the next four years (stock image)
Announcing the trebling of tree planting, Mr Eustice will say: ‘Today, I am also outlining measures to better protect our existing trees and woodland and set us on the path to ensure that we have at least 12 per cent of woodland cover by the middle of the century.
‘It is our ambition that all woodlands in England will improve the environment, acknowledging that our woods and trees are vital habitats.
‘The iconic oak tree alone supports 2,300 species, of which 326 are dependent on oak trees for their survival. Trees are also important for sequestering carbon. Indeed woodlands currently sequester about 4 per cent of the UK’s gross emissions.’
The Mail has championed tree planting in the UK with the Be a Tree Angel campaign, which raised £1.5million to plant trees and orchards.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘Today we face a twin nature and climate emergency – these crises are entirely interlinked and one cannot be tackled without addressing the other.
‘It’s essential that we stop nature’s decline and restore 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030 – doing so will help wildlife fight back and enable repaired habitats to store carbon once more.’
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