First News - - Front Page - by ed­i­tor in chief Nicky Cox

A RECORD num­ber of trees are be­ing ripped up, while the plant­ing of new ones is slower than it’s been for nearly 50 years, in our coun­try.

That’s the alarm­ing news from the Wood­land Trust, which man­ages more than 1,000 English forests.

The Trust warns that 780 an­cient woods are at risk from new homes, trans­port projects, quar­ries and golf cour­ses.

Num­bers from the Forestry Com­mis­sion show that only 1,900 hectares of trees were planted across Eng­land in the past two years. That is the small­est num­ber since 1971. None of the plant­ing has been done by the com­mis­sion in Eng­land since 2008, or in Wales since 1992. Most of the new plant­ing done in Bri­tain is in Scot­land. Any new plant­ing is done mostly by pri­vate landown­ers, us­ing money from Gov­ern­ment grants.

The Gov­ern­ment promised to plant 11 mil­lion trees be­tween 2015 and 2020. The Prime Min­is­ter said last month that plant­ing trees was “at the heart of our work to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions”. But she ad­mit­ted they had much more to do.

Right now about 13% of the UK is cov­ered by for­est. But the Wood­land Trust’s boss, Beccy Speight, says the Gov­ern­ment is fail­ing and that plan­ning laws need to be made tougher to pro­tect our forests for the fu­ture.

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