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The Big Climate Fightback

Andrew Allen of the Woodland Trust discusses the launch of the Big Climate Fightback and why more trees are vital in the battle against climate change.

The Big Climate Fightback is on. Throughout November, the Woodland Trust is calling on thousands of people to turn promises about climate change into meaningful and empowering action.

Trees are our strongest warriors in the battle against climate change. By now, you know the mantra of locking up carbon, fighting flooding and cooling our cities. But just as important is how trees can engage people - giving them a stake in fight against climate change both in planting a tree themselves, or in calling on government to deliver meaningful, well-resourced policies to support trees and woods.

In the next few weeks, the Woodland Trust is sending more than 600,000 free trees to community groups and schools across the country. We will be backing this up with an Emergency Tree Fund, initially worth up to £1m, to help local authorities plant trees and create woods. These two initiatives form part of our pledge to establish 50 million trees in the next five years. This will be no small challenge. So far this year, COVID-19 has contributed to a 30% reduction in UK tree planting with more challenges on communities to get out to plant in large numbers.

But the Big Climate Fightback is not just about getting people out to plant trees for carbon. We have to respond to the climate and nature emergencies together. The Woodland Trust is calling on our supporters to lobby the government for policies, strategies and investments that can deliver this.

For example, we want many more trees to establish naturally, being allowed to colonise new areas through seeding and suckering from existing trees. This can have numerous benefits for nature, for example, maintaining the genetic diversity which trees need to respond to threats including a changing climate, and pests and diseases.

Currently, farmers and land managers in England can get paid for planting trees but not for letting tree cover expand naturally. The development of the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) presents the perfect opportunity to change this and part of the Big Climate Fightback is a call for natural regeneration of woodland to be properly supported with farmers and other land managers encouraged and rewarded for allowing natural processes.

The Big Climate Fightback is about getting everyone involved in the battle against climate change. Whether it is planting a tree, lobbying for change or simply supporting the cause, we want people from all sections of society to help our environment repair and regrow.

Andrew Allen is Lead Policy Advocate at the Woodland Trust.

Follow: @WoodlandTrust

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.