TREE planting is a hot topic ahead of the imminent general election vote, with the country’s political parties pledging to plant millions of trees annually in their respective manifestos.

The Conservatives intend to plant 30 million trees – or 30,000 ha – annually, between 2020 and 2025. The Tories’ £640 million Nature for Climate fund would be used to this end, as well as to restore peatland. The fund would cover England, but the party has said it would work with devolved governments across the UK to increase tree planting.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have pledged to double the Tories’ tree-planting figure, aiming for 60 million trees annually across the same five-year period.

The Green Party has pledged to plant 70 million trees – or 70,000 ha – annually, between 2020 and 2030.

Labour initially said it will embark on an “ambitious” programme of tree planting, with both forestry and native woodland species, but didn’t put a precise figure on it. It has since published a ‘Plan for Nature’, which pledges to plant 300 million trees by 2025, 1 billion by 2030, and 2 billion by 2040.

The SNP is targeting 60 million trees annually in the UK by 2030, 30 million of which will be in Scotland.

The Brexit Party has also promised to plant millions of trees. Party leader Nigel Farage recently told The Guardian that the UK should “spearhead a global initiative at the United Nations to plant billions of trees around the world”.

Recent DEFRA figures revealed that spending on trees and forestry has actually fallen despite pledges to increase planting, with less than £2 per person spent in 2017–18.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said £132 million was spent across the UK in 2017–18, down from £151 million in 2014–15.

Of that £132 million, the lion’s share (£100 million) was spent north of the Border. 22 million trees were planted in Scotland last year – approximately 84% of the British total.