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 destroyed 8,278 acres English forest in November 2021
  • More trees were felled than the 5,585 acres planted in 2021-2022
  • Britain has set a net zero goal of planting 90million to 120million trees each year.

Last year, more trees were destroyed by storms than were planted in England.

A Forestry Commission assessment found that Storm Arwen caused destruction to 8,164 acres of England’s woodland.

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 that struck the UK on November 26th and 27 last year was responsible for most of the 8,278 acres total of trees lost in England.

Storm Arwen caused the destruction of 8,164 acres woodland in England as it swept across the country last November. Arwen caused a tree to fall in New York, North Tyneside.

The area of trees planted in England in 2021/22 was 5,585 acres, which means more area was lost than gained.

England is a shockingly behind the others 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 absorb carbon dioxide which raises temperatures.

Hosepipe bans survive a wet autumn 

Despite heavy rains, some areas of the country still have bans on the use of hosepipes.

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

Yesterday, the National Drought Group issued warnings that 10 of 14 English areas still remain in drought. In areas of Sussex that have seen torrential rain, the ban felt strange. Lee Dance of South East Water stated that reservoirs had fallen to low levels during the summer, and that the ban would be lifted once they recover.

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

Yorkshire Water also stated that South Yorkshire’s reservoir levels are still low.

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. 

We need more tree species and profiles in our country, both now and over the long term. 

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

Most of the damage was caused by pine trees from North East commercial forests.

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, from charity The Tree Council, stated that targets should take into account tree loss and new areas.

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