Nature

The Big Climate Fightback

The UK is in the grip of a climate change emergency. Trees are warriors in the battle against an environmental catastrophe – and we need more of them.

TV’s Sandi Toksvig and Clive Anderson join charity’s calls for people power in wake of repeated government failings on urgent tree planting to tackle climate change.

The Woodland Trust is launching the UK’s largest mass tree planting campaign – urging the public to pick up their spades and take action on climate change. The Big Climate Fightback aims to get more than a million people to pledge to plant a tree on the run up to a mass day of planting across the UK on November 30.

The action has been sparked after the charity had to yet again call out the Government for failing to meet its annual tree planting commitments. In England just 1,420 hectares of woodland was created against the Government aspirational target of 5,000 per year (see Notes to eds). This is despite its own Committee for Climate Change calling for dramatic increases to stand any chance of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.* It will require a three-fold increase in current woodland creation levels.

The Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig and TV presenter Clive Anderson are among the charity’s ambassadors lending their support to get people on board in pledging and planting .

Darren Moorcroft Chief Executive at the Woodland Trust said the campaign was in response to calls from the public to be given a practical way to tackle the UK’s tree planting crisis: “Most people are aware of the race against time in terms of climate change and planting trees being part of the solution – they absorb harmful CO2 and produce vital oxygen. But we are not planting anywhere near enough.

“The Big Climate Fightback is about inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds and providing the chance to take direct action – they have to simply go to our website and pledge to plant a tree, whether it’s in their back yard, neighbourhood, school or at a nearby planting event. It’s an easy way for people to do their individual bit for climate change as part of a mass movement.”

However the charity is mindful of not confusing the message that trees are a ‘solve all‘ to the climate crisis. Darren continues: “Established in 1972 we’re long standing advocates of the need for trees and this message is resonating with the public now more than ever before. But we’re mindful too that the message of trees as a solution should not be confused as the sole answer to our climate crisis. As individuals we all need to do more, much more, to reduce our impact on the planet by cutting emissions and reducing pressure on resources “

Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig, a television broadcaster, producer and writer urged people to pledge to plant. She said: “Climate change is a real threat and it affects us all. But there is the simplest of all solutions. It’s green and lovely - the humble tree. It eats CO2 for breakfast and makes all our lives better. And what’s more we can all do our bit to take action now and plant one. I will be pledging to plant a tree in the Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback and I urge people to get off their sofas (when they’ve watched their recording of Bake Off of course) and plant a tree. It’s very simple and you could be one in a million.”

Clive Anderson, television and radio presenter and president of the Woodland Trust, said: “Global warming isn’t something that might happen sometime in the future: it’s happening already. And we need to do something about it.

“Because technology created the problem, it’s often argued humanity can look to technology to deal with the threat of climate change. Surely, we can design a clever bit of kit or build some sort of machine to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store carbon out of harm’s way? Maybe, but of course that device already exists. It’s called a tree. Though to make a difference we need an awful lot of them– 1.5 billion trees, according to the Government’s Climate Change Committee, if we want to help the UK reach ‘net zero’ by 2050.

“So, let’s make this year the year we make a real difference. I’ll be doing my bit and I hope you’ll all be planting too.”

The Woodland Trust will be hosting planting days across the UK on November 30 – the focal event will be the Young People’s Forest in Mead, near Heanor in Derbyshire.

The charity is bidding to plant a tree for every person in the UK by 2025. All the trees provided by the Woodland Trust will be UK sourced and grown native broadleaf varieties such as oak, birch and hawthorn.

Ways to get involved in the Big Climate Fightback:
- People who work with young people are urged to inspire them to get involved and plant trees.
- Businesses are urged to inspire employees to get involved.
- Communities can influence landowners like local authorities to let them plant trees.
- The public can attend planting events hosted by The Woodland Trust and its partners.
- Everyone can use their networks and social media channels to spread the word - #EveryTreeCounts

For more information and to pledge to plant a tree visit: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/bigclimatefightback

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