Archive for Woodland creation

Oh no we don’t!

The pantomime season is approaching fast, and seemingly kicked off with this piece on the BBC’s Countryfile programme last Sunday, in which Tom Heap explored the intriguing question of “why burning trees is better for the environment than many think”.

Subsequent media coverage has quoted the support of a number of conservation bodies, including ourselves, for the Forestry Commission’s desire to harvest two million tonnes of woodfuel a year from the UK’s “undermanaged” woods. Our supporters would rightly question why a woodland conservation charity like the Woodland Trust would wish to see trees felled and burned to produce heat. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rules that need be neither bent nor broken

Photo (c) Darren Hester

The UK Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July this year, makes the case for the creation of 10,000 hectares of new woodland a year for the next fifteen years. And that’s just for England: Scotland already has a similar target. If achieved, the English contribution alone could draw an estimated 50 million tonnes out of the atmosphere by 2050.

Only it’s not really a target. It’s an aspiration, an altogether different thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Wither the additionality?

Can upland sheep farms really be "carbon neutral"?

Can upland sheep farms really be "carbon neutral"?

According to a recent report, upland sheep farming is good news for the environment. A Northumberland sheep farmer commissioned a report looking into the greenhouse gas emissions from two farms. The report, produced by the Food Animal Initiative 2008, makes use of the Country Land and Business Association‘s CALM calculator, which was designed to enable farmers to work out their annual GHG emissions.

The two farms were found to have yearly emissions of 3.2 tonnes CO2e per hectare, which the report claims compares favourably with the national average of 4 and 6 tCO2e for other grazing LFA (Less Favoured Area) and lowland grazing systems, respectively. [Note, though, the recent Natural England study from which the report draws its background information actually gives an average value of 2.5 tCO2e per annum.] Read the rest of this entry »

Can trees save the world?

WTPL/Dick Todd

Photograph: WTPL/Dick Todd

Aren’t trees amazing? From the tiniest seed they can grow into the largest of living things, bestowing a wealth of benefits upon the wildlife that clambers, crawls, flits and buzzes among their branches. Trees provide food and shelter, regulate and cleanse water supplies. They offer protection against soil erosion and the worst impacts of wind and tides. They even create wonderlands for us to visit.

All this they do using the barest minimum of raw materials. Sunlight drives photosynthesis, the process by which the sugars that fuel growth are created. And as a tree grows it locks up tonnes of carbon – the stuff we have been blasting into the atmosphere in increasing quantities ever since we first discovered how to dig coal and suck oil out of the ground. Read the rest of this entry »