Defence Estates (DE) and the Woodland Trust have entered into a partnership to boost the UK’s woodland cover across Ministry of Defence (MoD) land.

A newly planted oak tree
A newly planted oak tree

The first step is a three-month study of military land beginning this month, where specialists in woodland creation from the Woodland Trust will be working with DE Regional Foresters. The MoD is one of the country’s largest landowners, with DE managing around 240,000ha of land – around one per cent of the UK’s landmass – on its behalf.

The role of woodland in mitigating effects of climate change and providing renewable energy has been recognised by the Government. For the MoD, the development of woodland on its estate also has operational benefits because it offers an effective environment for military training.

The UK currently has the lowest amount of wooded areas in Europe and the Government’s directive of ‘tree planting sooner, rather than later’ in the widely accepted Low Carbon Transition Plan advocates tree planting and aims to dramatically alter how future UK landscapes look.

Sue Holden, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust, said: “Our aim is to double native tree cover in the UK and we’re delighted that Defence Estates is prepared to show leadership in sustainable land management in this way.  We anticipate this new partnership and the findings of the next three months will present a powerful argument that it can be done and I am convinced that there are others for whom planting would prove a positive step.”

“The Trust wants to work with landowners all over the country to help them plant trees and create new native woodland, backed by nearly four decades of our own experience.”

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