Philip King
Jolyon King
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I expect you have heard the calls to double tree cover in the UKbut did you realise that if we continue planting at the current rate that will take 237 years to achieve?

Friends of the Earth have proposed reaching the target by 2045 and have some reasoned arguments for thinking that this is achievable. Freeing up agricultural land seems to be the key.

If we continue shifting our diets to eating less but better quality meat and dairy, then that will release land currently used for pasture, especially rough pasture and cropland being used for feed for livestock.

This would result in a smaller livestock population grazing on higher quality pasture, fewer intensive pig and poultry mega farms and more mixed farms. If trees are planted alongside crops and as shelter for the livestock (a process known as agroforestry), then that will support more sustainable farming.

It will also allow the restoration of species-rich grasslands and meadows which have been lost over the past century of intensive agriculture.

Friends of the Earth set out these suggestions for doubling tree cover in England:

• Plant on 1 million acres of Grade 4 (poor quality) farmland near local populations
• Add a further 3 million acres of Grade 4 land in remote areas
• Expand agroforestry to add 700,000 more acres of tree cover
• Total additional tree cover = 4.7 million acres

These are certainly ambitious plans but they could be achieved if the necessary will is there.