Britain must plant 1.5bn trees to reach zero emissions by 2050, which means more than 150 football pitches a day from now.

Naomi Larsson

Hundreds of thousands in Britain join mass tree-planting campaign to cut carbon emissions

Close to a million trees will be planted across the UK in a campaign to tackle the climate emergency. 

The Woodland Trust said hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to plant trees as part of the charity’s nationwide tree-planting campaign to curb carbon emissions. 

Schools, businesses and community groups have arranged planting events across the country, while hundreds of individuals have committed to planting new saplings in their gardens. 

“Each one of the trees planted will contribute to make our country that bit greener and healthier," said Darren Moorcroft, the Woodland Trust's chief executive. 

The UK needs 1.5 billion more trees to help reach its zero carbon emissions target, according to the Committee on Climate Change. Trees help restore wildlife, reduce soil degradation on farms, improve air quality by absorbing pollution, but most importantly, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Naomi Larsson

The government’s climate advisers said in May the UK’s landscape needs to be transformed, and citizens’ habits will have to change drastically, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050. 

Individuals will have to reduce consumption of animal products like beef and dairy, while the report suggested a fifth of farmland must be turned into forest, peatland or used for biomass crops.

Tree-planting schemes have taken place across the world in an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change. During one day in August, 350 million trees were planted in Ethiopia as part of a nationwide tree-planting strategy. New Zealand plans to plant a billion trees by 2028, while in Pakistan a billion trees were planted ahead of schedule in 2017. That same year, 1.5 million volunteers in India planted 66 million trees in just 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh. 

The UK has fallen short of its target of delivering 11 million trees by 2022. In England, just 1,420 hectares of woodland was created in the last year, well below the government’s target of 5,000 hectares.

The Woodland Trust’s campaign aims to reverse the low planting rates. 

Those taking part in the tree-planting campaign say it’s more important than ever, as this week the UN announced global greenhouse gas levels had reached record highs, with “no sign of a slowdown.” 

Concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 407.8 parts per million (ppm) in 2018, up from 405.5 ppm in 2017, according to the UN body the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). 

"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas.

"We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind," he said.