Farmers must decide voluntarily to engage in tree planting activities and receive fair rewards for their delivery of public goods, the NFU has said.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point climate plan, which proposed to plant 30,000 hectares of trees each year by 2025, alongside rewilding 30,000 football pitches’ worth of countryside, in a bid to absorb carbon.
The plan included other measures such as an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 in the hope of mobilising £12 billion of Government investment, and three times as much from the private sector, and create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.
NFU president Minette Batters added Government must also financially incentivise farmers for good management of existing woodland and highlighted a comprehensive approach was needed to realise net zero by 2040.
She said: “Plans for agriculture include boosting productivity to bring down food production emissions, as well as on-farm carbon storage in hedges, trees and soils, and deploying more renewable energy.”
But the Soil Association branded the plan’s failure to address food production ‘a big gap’ and called for a system-wide change, with food and farming a joined-up climate priority.
Gareth Morgan, head of farming and land use policy at the Soil Association, said: “The UK is already well behind on the Government’s own tree planting targets and it is critical for nature and climate that the right trees are grown in the right places.”
He added tree planting can and must play a vital role in a green recovery and agroforestry could support more resilient farming and help restore nature and health.