Keeping nature at the top of the political agenda

29 September 2021

We’re using every available opportunity to talk to politicians about how woods and trees can help tackle the climate and nature crises.

We need to seize the moment to shout about these amazing habitats – the need to expand native tree cover and to do much more to protect and restore our precious ancient woodland and veteran trees. One of the ways we’re doing this is by attending and holding events at party conferences.

We’ve been busy with lots of activity, including supporting and organising:

  • events at the SNP and Scottish Greens Party Conferences on saving Scotland’s rainforest, a globally important habitat on Scotland’s west coast
  • an event at the Labour Conference on how we can ensure everyone enjoys the benefits of access to woods and trees
  • a discussion at the Conservative Conference on what’s needed from the UK’s global and domestic leadership on the environment.

This is a big year for nature and the environment, with the Environment Bill progressing through Parliament at Westminster and the UK hosting the COP26 UN Climate Conference in November. We’re working hard to make sure woods and trees are high on the agenda.

Join the Global Day of Action for climate on 6 November

24 September 2021

This November the UK is hosting COP26, a major UN climate summit, in Glasgow. It presents a huge opportunity for everyone, especially those in the UK, to call for faster and more decisive action to tackle climate change at home and abroad.

On Saturday 6 November, we will march together in cities across the UK to call for action on climate change. Our shared aim is to demand cooperation and ambition from governments as they meet to agree the global response to the climate crisis.

Trees and woods are our allies in tackling the climate emergency. Join us in Glasgow, Nottingham or Cardiff to call for trees and woods, and all of nature, to be at the heart of the action as we march for climate action.

We’ll gather at a designated meeting point before we join the march together. Find out more and register your interest in the marches.

Don’t live near Glasgow, Cardiff or Nottingham? Find your nearest march organised by the COP Coalition.

A new dawn for protecting ancient woodlands?  

21 September 2021 

Last week, a new amendment to the Environment Bill was supported by the House of Lords. It could transform ancient woodland protection in England.  

The amendment establishes a new ‘ancient woodland standard’ and gives ancient woodlands and veteran trees legal protection. The Bill is set to complete its passage through Parliament this October.

But the amendment could still be removed if MPs don’t support it. We can’t let that happen. Watch this space for how you can help us. 

MPs debate HS2

15 September 2021

Thank you to everyone who contacted their MP urging them to attend the HS2 debate on 13 September.

It was a very well-attended debate with MPs attempting to intervene in each other's speeches almost constantly, and with environmental issues being one of the top concerns mentioned by MPs. This was an important opportunity to call on the government to protect ancient woodland along the HS2 route, and we’re glad that so many MPs took that opportunity.

The discussion should result in extra pressure on Government and HS2 Ltd to give greater consideration to the environment. As always, we'll be keeping up the fight to protect ancient woods and trees threatened by the project.

Urge MPs to rethink HS2

3 September 2021

On Monday 13 September, MPs will debate a petition calling for a rethink on HS2 going ahead. 

This is an important opportunity to highlight the damage and destruction that HS2 has caused to ancient woods and trees along the route, and to repeat calls for HS2 to better respect precious irreplaceable habitats and the natural environment.

Please ask your MP to attend the debate by:

Good news for Scotland’s woods and trees

1 September 2021

The SNP-Green co-operation agreement ratified over the weekend follows the Scottish Parliament elections in May. The agreement includes some important policy wins for our work in Scotland.

They include:    

  • establishing a national register for ancient woods alongside additional funding, essential for their protection
  • increasing easily accessible, sustainably managed woodlands in urban areas
  • expansion of the Nature Restoration Fund to deliver projects including restoring and expanding Scotland’s rainforests
  • implementation of the Deer Management Working Group’s recommendations.   

These wins reflect the efforts of our team in Scotland as well as the voices of everyone who spoke up for trees during the May election campaign. Thank you to everyone who took part. 

What’s more, the newly formed SNP-Green Government has committed to setting targets for nature’s recovery in a Natural Environment Bill which will be introduced to Parliament in 2023-24. This is again thanks to more than 1,200 people who spoke up for nature and wrote messages for the Minister, Màiri McAllan.

Huge thanks to everyone who joined these campaigns. Your voices are making a difference.

Government strengthens nature target

31 August 2021

In a major win for wildlife, the Government has promised to set a deadline for nature’s recovery.

In June, the Government announced a target for nature but it fell short of what was needed. Last week, the Government heeded our calls and published plans to improve the Environment Bill by including a deadline for halting declines in species by 2030. This announcement means England will be the first country ever to have a deadline, set in law, for the recovery of nature. Now, with investment and action, this could help turn the tide for wildlife after decades of decline.

The announcement follows months of campaigning with more than 65 other charities to strengthen the Environment Bill. More than 200,000 people signed the petition - thank you if you were one of them. Your voices have been heard.

IPPC report says urgent action needed against climate change

16 August 2021

Time is running out to save the planet from a climate disaster. We need immediate, wholesale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across the world if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

That's the stark message from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, detailed in a 4000 page report published last week. Even without reading the 6th Assessment Report, few people can be in any doubt as to what is at stake with record-breaking temperatures and horrifying fires, floods and storms becoming regular fixtures on the news.

What does it mean for trees and woods? Internationally, changing global forest cover is both a cause and a solution to climate change. The rapid increase in deforestation and forest degradation is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions. Equally their protection, restoration and expansion can be a key part in absorbing these emissions.

For the UK, while we cannot plant our way out of global warming, trees and woods do have an important role to play in helping capture emissions and also adapting to climate change. First and foremost, we must protect our existing woodlands. As our State of Woods and Trees research detailed, ancient woodland is not only an exceptional carbon store but it can go on accumulating more carbon for many centuries. Secondly, we need to establish more trees and woods in our landscapes. Getting the right trees in the right places can help nature adapt to a changing climate, protect us from extreme weather by shading our towns and cities from increasing summer heat, and protecting us from floods by slowing the flow of water into rivers.

Crucially, the UN report should not be met with fatalism. It shows that with urgent action now our climate could still be stabilised over the next 30 years and keep temperature rises to below 1.5 degrees - generally agreed to be a tipping point for many of the more extreme impacts of climate change. There is even some suggestion that a slow reduction in temperature could be possible in the future.

With under 100 days until the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the UK is in an unparalleled position to bring this vision about. With an ambitious climate target already agreed, showing clearly how to get onto a Net Zero pathway with more nature friendly land use would demonstrate real leadership.

The Woodland Trust will be fully engaged, too, through our Big Climate Fightback campaign, joining with our partners in The Climate Coalition, pushing for better protection for trees and woods and working with our corporate partners and local communities across the country to restore and rapidly expand native woods and trees.

Tunnel vision threatens ancient woodland

26 July 2021

Highways England recently launched its latest consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing project, a road scheme that would connect Kent to Essex via a tunnel under the River Thames.

We have had significant concerns since the first public details of the scheme were released in 2016. Those concerns remain regarding the proposed impact on ancient woodland, veteran trees and our own Ashenbank Wood site. Several hectares of ancient woodland and 10 veteran trees are likely to be lost under the current proposals.

We want to make sure environmental impacts are at the forefront of conversations ahead of Highways England submitting its Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2021/early 2022.

We’ll be setting up a form soon to make it easy for you to tell Highways England just how important ancient woodland is. Watch this space over the next few weeks. 

Thousands voice opposition to destruction of Grantham woodland

23 July 2021

Thank you to the thousands of you who wrote to Homes England to say its plans to remove up to 80% of the young woodland at Grantham Barracks were unacceptable.

Your words had a real impact and Homes England has come back to the negotiating table. We still believe a significant amount of the threatened woodland can be saved – watch this space for news in the coming weeks and months.

Show your true colours this Great Big Green Week

22 July 2021

We're gearing up for a week of community action and events between 18 - 26 September 2021. During Great Big Green Week (known as Climate Fringe Week in Scotland), we want to show the Government that the UK is ready to see climate ambition and action at COP26. 

Help make history and be part of the biggest climate event the UK has ever seen. Get involved! 

Protecting trees and woods

Great Big Green Week

Be part of the biggest climate event the UK has ever seen this Great Big Green Week, 18-26 September. 

Find out more

Petition for new nature target handed to Government 

7 July 2021

Today we handed a petition to Government Minister George Eustice with more than two hundred thousand signatures. Each one calls for a new and binding target to recover nature by 2030. Thank you to everyone who signed it. 

We’ve been working with more than 65 other charities to strengthen the Environment Bill and make it a legal requirement to reverse the downward trends seen throughout nature.  

The pressure on Government that we’ve created has already meant we’re a huge step closer to our aim and we’ve secured a new target for species. Sadly, it sets no deadline and leaves nature’s recovery to chance.  

There’s still time for Government to change it. Let’s hope it listens. We'll keep you updated.

Read our response to the changes so far

Nearly 67,000 Lincolnshire trees at risk

17 June 2021

Plans for a new housing development in Grantham, Lincolnshire threaten young woodland that was planted as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations just 10 years ago. 

In the middle of a nature crisis, all developments should be designed to retain existing havens for wildlife. It’s a travesty that nearly 60 hectares of woodland planted by the community and Woodland Trust staff could be lost.

The proposals set a dangerous precedent. Join us and call on Homes England to review their plans for Grantham.

Government target for nature falls short

11 June 2021

This week the Government published the details of a new target for nature. It follows last month’s promise of a legally-binding target to halt the declines in nature we are seeing across England.

But the details, seen for the first time this week, fall short. The amendment to the Environment Bill fails to set a deadline for stopping nature’s free fall and instead aims to ‘further the objective’ of halting the declines.

This wording is important, and it’s not good enough. We must demand better. Sign the petition to call for nature's recovery by 2030. 

Scotland’s nature needs you

24 May 2021

Help us secure a new legally binding target for recovering Scotland’s nature. Tell the new Minister for the Environment, Màiri McAllan, why nature matters to you.

Scotland’s nature is unique and special. It plays an essential role in all of our lives, boosting health and wellbeing, cleaning our air and water and underpinning thousands of jobs. But nature is in trouble and it needs your help.

In Scotland, one in nine species is at risk of extinction and only 3% of native woodland is in good overall condition. We need legally binding targets for nature recovery in Scotland to change this and help nature recover and thrive.  

That’s why we’re supporting Scottish Environment LINK to show the new Environment Minister why nature matters. Join us by visiting https://www.fightforscotlandsnature.scot/action to send your message to Màiri McAllan. 

Government announcements are great news for nature

19 May 2021

Government made two important announcements yesterday. As well as publishing the new England Trees Action Plan, it will amend the long-awaited Environment Bill to include a new legally binding target for nature.

These are both enormous steps forward, but action on the ground must follow. Read our response to the Government announcements and see how you can help keep up the pressure for change.


Don't miss opportunity to prioritise woods and trees this election

28 April 2021

The elections that will decide who will make up the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments and who will be Mayor in eight city regions are just one week away.

Every individual elected will have the power to set us on the right trajectory to tackle the climate and nature crises. Woods and trees are vital to address these crises and must be a priority for candidates.

Already we’ve seen many parties committing to ambitious policies for woods and trees. In the last few days before polls open on 6 May, we must push harder than ever for all parties and candidates to put native woods and trees at the heart of their campaigns.

If you live in Wales, Scotland or the following English mayoral city regions, email your candidates today!

  • Cambridgeshire
  • Greater Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Tees Valley
  • West of England
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway cancelled

19 April 2021

We welcome the announcement that the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has been cancelled. For now, 383 known ancient woods within 2km of the expressway route corridor are safe again.

The Government cancelled the project as it was no longer 'cost effective'. Working with the RSPB and Wildlife Trusts, we have long opposed the plans due to the potential environmental damage. It's disappointing that this wasn't acknowledged as a reason for the cancellation. We need to address and tackle the nature and climate emergencies. We can’t afford for the environment to play second fiddle to the economy any longer.

The expressway's cancellation is a big win, but the risks to nature from local road 'improvements' remain. They include plans for the A34 west of Oxford which could impact important sites for nature.

Action is needed on other development and infrastructure projects across the Growth Arc area too. We need to electrify the rail link and avoid damage to irreplaceable habitats.

There are important lessons to learn from the Expressway’s failure. Most importantly, all future plans for the Arc must have the environment at their heart.

Look out for an update on the current East West Rail route consultation soon.

Ground-breaking State of UK Woods and Tree report launched  

14 April 2021

We are delighted to launch our State of UK Woods and Trees 2021 report. It’s the first report of its kind laying out the facts and trends on the current state of the UK's native woods and trees.  

It includes a wealth of data on the current state of our woodlands. The evidence is clear: we need to take urgent action in all corners of the UK. 

Having a clear picture of the current state of our woodlands will help us to better understand their vital role in:

  • tackling climate change
  • improving our wellbeing
  • recovering nature.

Read the report’s key findings and priority actions

State of UK woods and trees

State of UK woods and trees

The State of the UK’s Woods and Trees report is the first of its kind focused on the UK's native woods and trees. It outlines their current extent, condition and wildlife value, benefits, threats and what is being done to help them.

See the story at a glance

Ancient woods saved from M4/A48 link road proposals

8 April 2021

Precious ancient woodlands and their wildlife are now safe from the threat of the M4 to A48 link road outside Cardiff.

In December 2020, many of you joined our campaign to reject four potential road options posed by Vale of Glamorgan Council. Their aim was to ease congestion and help future growth in the region, but the route options were a threat to seven irreplaceable ancient woods.

The Welsh Government has now decided not to fund the project under the new Wales Transport Strategy, Llwybr Newydd. The council will no longer pursue the link road plans, meaning all seven ancient woods are safe once more.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our campaign to protect these irreplaceable ancient woodlands. Special thanks to Vale Communities for Future Generations, the local community group that supported our campaign.

January-March 2021

Celebrations

The scrapping of two controversial road schemes - Hereford Southern Link Road and the preferred western bypass route - saved several ancient woods and trees from damage and destruction. We're grateful to local campaigners who stood beside us to save them, and to the county council for the decision. Plans for an eastern bypass remain on the table - we'll be keeping a close eye on progress.

Six ancient woods near Cardiff are safe after M4-A48 link road plans were shelved. The project lost funding from the Welsh government under the Llwybr Newydd Transport Strategy as it didn't meet new criteria.

Influencing policy

Alongside many other organisations, we began campaigning for the upcoming Environment Bill to include a legally binding target for nature’s recovery. You joined us in urging MPs to attend the 26 January debate on the bill, and to support the amendment to put nature’s recovery into law. And thousands of you signed the petition calling for the bill to be as strong as possible. After the debate, Government announced a disappointing further delay to the bill. 

The latest on HS2 

In January, it was confirmed that HS2 Ltd must produce an annual report of its impact on ancient woodland. This was a result of our chair, Baroness Young, tabling an amendment to the HS2 Phase 2a Bill. The reporting will cover the whole HS2 route.

The HS2 Phase 2a Bill received royal assent in parliament in February, allowing works to begin on the project’s second phase. 

We kept up the fight to hold HS2 Ltd to account for its actions and prevent further unacceptable treatment of irreplaceable habitats and will continue to do so.

Protecting trees and woods

HS2 rail link

HS2 is a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. We can’t let this happen. 

Read the latest

2020

Here's a round up of our biggest campaigns last year.

Quick fact

In 2020 we campaigned to defend ancient woods and trees in more than 280 cases.

Celebrations

Several ancient woods were saved from Eastleigh Borough Council’s development proposals after residents' campaigning and our own objections.

Service station plans threatening Smithy Wood, by the M1 near Sheffield, were withdrawn. You made this possible after campaigning with us for six years.

After four years and thousands behind our campaign, the chosen route for the A27 Arundel bypass won't destroy any ancient woods. 

Liverpool’s Allerton Oak came 11th in the European Tree of the Year competition. We announced Tree of the Year 2020 winners in England, Wales and Scotland.

Influencing policy

The Agriculture Bill became law in November. Policy ambition must translate to action on the ground and we’ll keep pressing for schemes to support tree planting and natural regeneration.

Thousands of you took part in our England Tree Strategy campaign calling for strong targets to tackle climate change with woods and trees. Watch Zac Goldsmith’s response to your comments. 

You joined us in urging all four UK governments to increase native tree cover to fight climate change as part of the Big Climate Fightback.

Changes to England’s planning system threaten woods and trees. Over 9,600 of you responded to the public consultation through our campaign. More consultations will follow.

The Time is Now virtual lobby brought over 14,000 people together with 200+ MPs to talk about a healthy, green and fair recovery after coronavirus. What is a green recovery? Read our blog.

We worked with other conservation organisations to release the Nature’s Arc principles, calling on government and decision makers to put nature at the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge Growth Arc.

You joined us in droves to push for Government action as we launched the Emergency Tree Plan, our vision for how the UK can increase tree cover and tackle the nature and climate crises.

Did you know?

We've been defending ancient woods and trees from HS2 for over a decade. We won't give up the fight for these irreplaceable habitats.

Defending woods from HS2

As work began along Phase 1, we continued to press Government to monitor HS2’s contractors, hold HS2 Ltd to account and investigate any breaches and wildlife crimes.

Our chair, Baroness Barbara Young, tabled two amendments to the High Speed Rail Phase 2a Bill in the House of Lords, including a request for HS2 to report regularly on impacts to ancient woods.

Our expert Luci Ryan helped shape evidence for Chris Packham’s legal fight against HS2. Heard in July, judges later rejected the case saying they gave the decision 'light scrutiny, as it was a government decision'.

Luci also gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on HS2 Phase 2a after HS2 Ltd was unable to offer assurances on concerns we raised in 2019. The Committee published its report, asking HS2 Ltd to look again at sourcing UK and Irish sourced and grown trees. Watch Luci’s evidence on Parliamentlive.tv.

Watch this space

The fate of some woods we campaigned for in 2020 is still to be decided. We’ll continue fighting to keep these woods safe and will update you with any news.

Ongoing cases 

A proposed link road from the M4 to the A48 near Cardiff threatens six ancient woods. The public consultation on route options ended in December, but they all impact woods. 

We opposed the proposed A62/A644 Link Road in West Yorkshire in 2019 - plans are now being revisited due to the impact on ancient woods.

Thousands joined us in telling Highways England that damaging irreplaceable habitats for the Lower Thames Crossing is unacceptable.

Explore our earlier successes and current campaigns