INDUSTRY organisation Confor is urging political parties to commit to “ambitious” tree planting targets in their general election manifestos.

Chief executive Stuart Goodall has written to the parties, asking them to plant 30,000 ha of new woodland annually by 2025, approximately 60 million trees planted every year.

The figures are part of “ambitious, but achievable” targets set out by Confor in its Woodland Carbon Targets policy paper earlier this year and recognise that tree planting at scale is a “simple, low-cost option” to reduce damaging impacts of climate change.

The paper sets stepped UK-wide targets rising from 15,000 ha in 2020 to 30,000 in 2025 and rising to 40,000 hectares in 2030.

Stuart Goodall commented: “Confor set these targets after talking to members and other interest groups, and looking at other targets out there. We know they are ambitious, but we believe they are achievable. We chose to focus on the 2025 targets as that takes us just beyond the end of the next 5-year parliamentary term.”

Mr Goodall said Scotland was already well on track to meet the targets, having planted 11,200 hectares in the year to April 2019 - but that far greater ambition was needed in the rest of the UK.

"The industry was greatly encouraged by the announcement in late September by Forestry Minister Zac Goldsmith of plans for a new Northumberland Forest - and we have asked the Conservative Party to follow through on this pledge if elected," he added. 

"I was also very encouraged by the Labour Party environment team pledging to set ambitious targets in its manifesto when we spoke to them at their party conference in September. I'm urging the Lib Dems too to show they are serious about tackling the climate emergency by committing to ambitious targets - and asking the Scottish National Party to share how they have achieved their success to help drive up planting in the rest of the UK."

Letters are also being sent to Plaid Cymru and The Green Party.