Conference to help fulfil woodland creation ambitions

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Creating woodlands is a hot topic for land managers and other professionals concerned with the environment and climate. For England, the Government is committed to tripling planting rates in just two seasons. There are equally ambitious goals in Wales, with the introduction of a new National Forest for Wales. Tree planting is central to achieving net zero targets, but huge questions over how these targets will be met in practice remain unanswered.

Fortunately, the Accelerating Woodland Creation & Management conference promises to provide the insight needed.

Held online on 31 March, the conference will assemble speakers from across the forestry, woodland and land management sectors to spotlight the practical challenges and opportunities in achieving these ambitions. “The dash for net zero, reduced timber imports and a ‘green recovery’ from the pandemic have placed woodland creation in the box marked urgent,” says Bruce Howard, director at Ecosystems Knowledge Network. “Even if planting can be achieved, woodland must be managed in order to harness its value for the climate transition, for people and the rural economy.

“It is vital that the diverse mix of professionals who need to be involved come together for informed dialogue. By harnessing the power of partnership and innovation, we can deliver the trees of the future, now,” says Dr Howard.

The Government is under increasing pressure to deliver on net zero targets, of which woodland creation is supposed to be a central part. “There has never been a more compelling argument to plant trees,” says Peter Chappell, head of forestry investment at Tilhill.

But the issue will be how these targets will be met and by whom. “We need more trees in the UK and we need them in the ground as soon as possible,” says Eddie Addis, head of asset management at John Clegg & Co.

“Over the past few years, the focus has been on the role that trees can play in carbon capture and tackling climate change, which is crucial. However, trees also have a vital role as we transition to a low carbon economy,” says Mr Addis.

Growing interest in the carbon market presents its own challenges, warns George Hepburne Scott, director at Forest Carbon. “The voluntary carbon market in the UK has evolved rapidly over the past 24 months. The huge spike in interest is opening many attractive opportunities to deliver nature-based solutions in the UK, led primarily by woodland creation.

“However, the speed of change is also presenting a multitude of challenges not only for those managing land but also for businesses seeking to invest in the market.”

Luckily, the Accelerating Woodland Creation & Management conference will advise on these issues and answer any burning questions, says Liz Nicholson, director at Forest Canopy Foundation. “This is an important opportunity to bring landowners, investors, and forestry expertise together to deliver first-class woodland creation in the UK.”