February 5, 2023

More trees were blown down than planted last year in England

More trees were blown down than planted last year: England lost thousands of acres of woodlands due to more ‘frequent’ and ‘extreme’ storms, new data shows

  • Storm Arwen brought down 8,278 acres of English woodland in November 2021
  • More trees fell than the 5,585 acres of trees that were planted in 2021-2022
  • Britain has a ‘net zero’ target of planting 90million to 120million trees a year



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More trees were blown down by storms last year than were planted in England.

Devastation wreaked by Storm Arwen brought down 8,164 acres of woodland in England, a Forestry Commission assessment has found.

But it played down the impact of storms, calling it ‘relatively modest’, and said it expected damaged woodlands to be replanted or to reseed naturally.

The storm, which hit the UK on November 26 and 27 last year, accounted for the majority of the 8,278 acres of trees felled in total across England.

Storm Arwen brought down 8,164 acres of woodland in England when it swept across the country in November last year. Pictured: A fallen tree in New York in North Tyneside caused by Arwen

But the area of trees created in 2021/22 in England was 5,585 acres, meaning more by area were lost than gained.

England is dramatically behind the Government’s target to plant 18,533 acres a year by 2024/25.

Experts say the UK needs  to increase its tree cover to hit ‘net zero’ by 2050. Trees suck up carbon dioxide that pushes up temperatures.

Hosepipe bans survive a wet autumn 

Hosepipe bans remain in parts of the country despite downpours of rain.

Three water firms – South East, South West, and Yorkshire – still have ‘temporary use bans’ restricting the amount that can be used.

The National Drought Group yesterday warned ten of 14 areas in England still have drought status. The incongruity of the ban was felt in areas of Sussex where there has been torrential rain. Lee Dance, of South East Water, said reservoirs fell to low levels in the summer and the ban would be lifted when they recover.

South West Water said it has bans in areas where water levels are ‘especially low’.

Yorkshire Water added that South Yorkshire still has low reservoir levels.

The figures showed 31,506 acres were felled in the UK last year – 39million to 52million trees – but 34,199 acres were created. 

Britain has a target of planting 74,132 acres a year – 90million to 120million trees. 

Forestry Commission chairman Sir William Worsley said: ‘The figures released today highlight the challenges we are facing with a changing climate and more frequent and extreme storm events. 

‘Now and in the long term, we need a wider range of tree species and age profiles across the country. 

‘This targeted approach will ensure the long term resilience of our precious woodlands.’ 

Most of those damaged were pine trees in commercial forests in the North East.

The commission said: ‘The damage overall is relatively modest equating to around 0.2 per cent of England’s tree cover and will not impact on tree planting targets.

‘Over 90 per cent of trees which fall as a result of storm damage will be replanted, meaning only a small per cent of forest is actually lost in the long term where it is not possible to restock.’

Andy Egan, of the Woodland Trust, said: ‘Government should be doing more to help all land managers to better protect their woodlands through better advice and grants and more action on other related threats such as tree disease and biosecurity.’ 

Sara Lom, of charity The Tree Council, said targets should consider tree loss as well as areas created.

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