Green Britain: UK urged to get planting to help wildlife and tackle climate change

Green Britain: John Ingham and Dale Vince discuss campaign

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Green groups joined the Government in backing its call on World Environment Day for everyone to plant more trees and flowers. The Plant For Our Planet initiative has echoes of the wartime Dig For Victory campaign, which encouraged the public to turn gardens into allotments to grow food. But this time the aim is to increase tree cover and produce more flowers.

This in turn will help pollinators such as bees and butterflies and strengthen the food chain right up to predators such as falcons and foxes.

Trees help slow climate change because they absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

A mature tree, for instance, can absorb up to 330lb of CO2 a year while the UK’s green spaces remove up to 2.8billion pounds of air pollutants every year. A mature oak tree can support 2,300 species, from fungi to beetles to birds. The initiative comes ahead of this month’s G7 meeting in Cornwall and November’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

It follows a call by Prince Charles last month for the public to plant trees to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

Only about 13 per cent of the UK is covered in trees compared with an average of 35 per cent across the EU.

The Government pledged to treble tree planting rates to 17,000 acres a year by the end of this parliament as part of its campaign to restore nature and fight climate change.

Its call for everyone to get involved was backed by groups including The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, National Trust, Horticultural Trades Association and Royal Horticultural Society.

They stressed that participants could do anything from planting a window box to a community area, or a tree in their garden or having wilder areas where the grass can grow. Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The world has an extraordinary opportunity at COP26 to come together to tackle climate change and reverse biodiversity loss.

“Plant For Our Planet is a chance for the public to take part, planting flowers and trees, restoring a community space and getting out into nature. Through thousands of individual actions, we want to send a simple message – we are in this together for our planet.”

National Trust director-general Hilary McGrady said: “The last year has reminded us how important nature is for our health and wellbeing. But just as we need nature, so nature needs us. And never more urgently than now. At the National Trust, we are establishing 20 million new trees on our land by 2030.”

Joan Edwards of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Never has the need to restore nature and tackle climate change been more urgent – and people must be part of the solution.”

Dr Richard Benwell, of Wildlife and Countryside Link, added: “Our planet is in trouble, but we really can dig ourselves out of this crisis.

“Each action that adds to our natural world – every bulb,  sowing and sapling – is a step toward restoring our wildlife and beating climate change. So, spades at the ready, ­everyone. This is the year to plant the seeds of a greener future.”

The initiative chimes with the Daily Express Green Britain Needs You crusade, which is also fighting to protect our environment.

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