New legally binding environmental targets for the UK announced, including an increase in tree and woodland cover 

Rosemary Venn, Coventry University


Some festive cheer? New legally binding environmental targets for the UK announced, including an increase in tree and woodland cover  

The UK Government has recently announced new environmental targets as part of its Environmental Improvement Plan and Environment Act, which includes increasing tree and woodland cover - hooray!

The key targets are as follows:

  • Halt the decline in species populations by 2030, and then increase populations by at least 10% to exceed current levels by 2042
  • Restore precious water bodies to their natural state by cracking down on harmful pollution from sewers and abandoned mines and improving water usage in households
  • Deliver our net zero ambitions and boost nature recovery by increasing tree and woodland cover to 16.5% of total land area in England by 2050
  • Halve the waste per person that is sent to residual treatment by 2042
  • Cut exposure to the most harmful air pollutant to human health – PM2.5
  • Restore 70% of designated features in our Marine Protected Areas to a favourable condition by 2042, with the rest in a recovering condition.

A reason to celebrate is that these targets are legally binding. However, there is little to no information on how the Government proposes to meet these targets…

As AGROMIX we were obviously excited to see the tree and woodland targets. On closer inspection however, you better put your festive mulled wine back down… The proposed increase in tree cover to 16% would take the UK from 1.3 million ha (10%) to 2.1 million ha, just an additional 800,000 ha.

This is not an ambitious target, in anyway shape or form. Our farmers can do more and better than this!

And hey, UK Government, where’s SOIL HEALTH on your list? Without healthy soils, we can’t achieve any of these targets…

Read more on the new targets in the UK  here

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Dr. Sara Burbi - Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience - Coventry University, Ryton Gardens Campus, CV8 LG, UK
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