Mapping expert Tim Richards of Terra Sulis and Friends of the Earth have drawn up an “opportunity map” of areas in England that may be suitable for creating more woodland cover.
The map and the data make it clear that here in Kent every district could increase their woodland cover without planting on valuable and essential land for growing food crops, designated wildlife sites (like Sites of Special Scientific Interest), Priority Habitats, and semi-improved grasslands, because we don’t want to harm nature, etc. The map identifies land where approximately another 20 million trees could be planted across all districts of Kent.
The woodland opportunity map uses open national datasets to assess potential woodland cover. And before any tree planting or woodland creation happens, it’s vital to carry out an ecological survey to ensure rare wildlife is not harmed. It’s also important to consider whether the land in question is suitable for natural regeneration – where trees can re-seed without the need for planting – or whether some planting is needed, to provide a local seed source.
To enable this work it’s necessary to work with; and alongside nature-friendly regenerative farming, which must not be seen to be competing for good quality farmland which could alienate landowners. This is the essential dilemma for people wanting to see more tree planting – where and how do you find the right spaces for trees?
Strategic regional planning maps don’t do the job. They don’t help people make decisions about the best places to support nature, store carbon or work at parish or neighbourhood level. All to often campaigners don’t make the case to landowners. However the map above does indicate where sensible and prudent woodland cover could take place in all districts of Kent.
So how could this map be used?
We recognise that the emotional reasons for planting trees are not enough to persuade and solid data needs to be part of the argument. The Terra Sullis map enables informed discussions to take place – but engagement with landowners must be socialised over a coffee or a beer – as of Monday 17th 2021 – this becomes possible. Building trust and personal contact is essential to avoid falling at the first hurdle as landowners can be very defensive about interference. The map enables the tree activist to understand the land’s potential, reassuring the farmer that they are not suggesting planting in the middle of valuable pasture, for example. It’s also a good idea to walk the land to demonstrate interest and that they know what they are talking about with regard to specific bits of land and come up with more than just plant woodland. In an ever changing world and climate change a reality landowners need to give thought to diversification and discussing the possibility of orchards, agro-forestry, using the field margins are and absolute necessity.
Campaigners also need to think about the benefits to the landowners, not just the planet – remember Folkestone & Hythe District Council is giving away £4.75 million for Green Initiatives and there are grants and other sources of funding. available. These financial incentives are necessary if one wants more woodland cover and to get the landowners on board
The underlying data which assists the map can be seen in spreadsheet form. It too shows how much each district in Kent could increase woodland cover in their respective district.
However, it’s not just landowners one needs to consider. It’s necessary to get your local parish, town, district, and county cllrs onboard as well. Parish Cllrs more often than not will know many of the local landowners in their parish, so would be useful to generate introductions.
Councillors regardless of which council or party they belong to, can support the increase of woodland cover locally by:
Asking the cabinet member responsible for trees to commit to doubling tree cover by 2030.
Introduce a council motion with a commitment to double local tree cover.
Here’s a template council motion you could use:
“Folkestone & Hythe District Council recognises the benefits trees provide for the climate, air quality, wildlife, people’s well-being and flood management; sets a target of doubling tree cover within the local authority area by 2030, including through growing more trees and woods on council-owned land; and resolves to write to the Environment Secretary to request more funding for councils to increase tree cover.”
This is doable, more trees can be planted, whether they be cherry orchards, apple orchards, chestnut groves, or general UK natural occurring species in new or extending old woodlands.
Trees are our natural allies in the fight against climate breakdown as they draw down carbon from the air.
Trees benefit mental and physical health – trees help clean polluted air, while access to green spaces is vital to our well-being.
Trees help adapt an area to climate breakdown by providing shade and reducing flood risk.
Trees can contribute to local jobs – in tourism, recreation, forestry, or sustainable woodland management.
Let’s engage and participate in planting trees in the Garden of England, as this would ensure the future environment for our children and grandchildren. We can if we try leave our planet in a better condition than when we found it, but we can only do this together.
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As someone has commented before, the Shepway Vox Team are greener than the Kent Green Party and all the other local Green groups. One hardly ever sees them promoting such positive contributions. What one does see and hear in the Folkestone & Hythe District is the Shepway Green party drone on about Princes Parade as if it is the only thing on the planet that mattered. It isn’t.
‘Trees benefit mental and physical health – trees help clean polluted air… ‘ AND ‘… while access to green spaces is vital to our well-being.’ That’s why we want our limited green area in Seabrook – Prince’s Parade, to stay undeveloped.
As a farmer within the district, my son pointed this out to me. We contacted the Woodland Trust and after a positive discussion they’ll visit next week to inspect a hectare of land which hopefully we’ll plant with trees to prevent flooding further down the hill in Monks Horton.
What do they say “from small acorns large oaks grow.”
I’ll definitely be recommending this to other farmers as my experience has been wholly positive.
Thanks for bringing this important issue to a wider audience.
It’s a good idea, but how did they choose the areas for the woodland as it’s put trees all over my 2 small fields we use for my horse plus across farmland used for sheep and cows and even neighbours front gardens?!
However fields that are redundant, not being used and are overgrown at present are not identified.