Written evidence submitted by Judith Ford (TPW0020)

I am a third year PhD student in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy at the University of Leeds.  My research has been on the prospects for increasing the UK production of biomass, predominantly perennial energy crops and wood fuel, the barriers to the necessary land use change, and the policies needed to deliver the level of bioenergy needed to deliver Net Zero by 2050.


  1. Are the UK Government’s targets for increasing forestry coverage, and tree planting, for England and the UK sufficiently ambitious and realistic? 

I have carried out research (not yet published) with stakeholders with a knowledge of forestry and agriculture policy making and the consensus was that planting 30 kha per annum of trees in the UK was appropriate to meet the CCC net zero targets for afforestation and was a realistic and achievable target if supported by appropriate policies.

The area of trees to be planted in England to meet the 30 kha per annum UK target depends on the way in which the target is allocated between the UK nations which in turn is dependent on the types of land favoured for tree planting.  I think that the targets for England could be between 6 kha per annum if lowest quality land were targeted and 18 kha per annum if higher quality land was planted with trees, leaving rough land untouched to reduce land use change emissions.  These higher levels for England could be challenging.


Consistency in describing planting in terms of land area would be desirable.  Targets discussed in terms of numbers of trees lead to confusion, fail to highlight the importance of finding suitable land and as thinning takes place targets will appear to be missed.


2.  Are the right structures in place to ensure that the UK wide target for increasing forestry coverage is delivered?

My research with land owners and farmers found that they view the processes in place for planting trees to be bureaucratic and in some cases have imposed strict penalties.   More capacity for processing applications and a more capacity to provide advice are needed.

The schemes to support planting are more attractive now that annual maintenance payments are included.



3, How effective is the co-ordination between the four nations on forestry issues, including biosecurity, plant health and other cross-border issues?

No comments to make.


4.  Why were previous ambitions for increasing tree planting in England not met and what lessons should be learned?


I have carried out research (not yet published) into the attitudes of farmers and landowners to planting trees on their land.  The barriers identified include:


The replacement of single farm payments with ELMS will remove some of these barriers but the following lessons need to be learned



5.  In relation to increasing forestry coverage in England, what should the Government be trying to achieve? For example, how should the following policy objectives be prioritised?

Mitigating or adapting to climate change;

Promoting biodiversity and nature recovery;

Increasing biosecurity and plant health;

Improving human well-being and health;

Protecting natural and cultural heritage;

Food security;

Creating commercial opportunities from forestry, tourism and recreation; and

Any other priorities?

Another priority could be ensuring a UK supply of wood fuel to be used with carbon capture and storage. I’m not sure if this is included in the commercial opportunities.

These objectives are all valid – I would possibly rate climate change mitigation and adaptation as most important but it is hard to rank them.  However, as any new woodland will deliver many of these benefits you don’t need to pick just one or two goals.

6.  Are the right policies and funding in place to appropriately protect and manage existing woodlands in England? How will prospective changes to policy and legislation effect this?

The renewable heat incentive has driven up the price of wood fuel in the UK and in turn this has driven higher levels of management.  The end of the scheme and as participants reach the end of their 20 year schemes could reverse this trend.

The inclusion of maintenance payment with planting grants could encourage higher levels of management.

Levels of woodland management could be increased if more information was supplied to farmers and landowners who currently carry out no management, either through lack of knowledge or view that no intervention is best for the habitat. 


November 2020