The Results – State UK’s Woods and Trees 2021

The Results - State UK

State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021 is the first report of its kind laying out the facts and trends on the current state of the UK’s native woods and trees.

At a glance – key findings

The analysis has identified four significant findings about the state of woods and trees.

1. Woodland cover is gradually increasing, but woodland wildlife is decreasing

The trends for the UK’s woods and trees are concerning. The UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, however much of this is non-native trees. Existing native woodlands are isolated, in poor ecological condition and there has been a decline in woodland wildlife.

Image provided to Wharton by the Woodland TrustImage provided to Wharton by the Woodland Trust

2. Woods and trees are vital for a healthy, happy society

They lock up carbon to fight climate change, improve our health, wellbeing and education, reduce pollution and flooding, and support people, wildlife and livestock.

Image provided to Wharton by the Woodland TrustImage provided to Wharton by the Woodland Trust

3. Woods and trees are subject to a barrage of coinciding threats

Threats range from direct woodland loss to more insidious influences from climate impacts, imported diseases, invasive plants, mammal browsing and air pollutants.

Image provided to Wharton by the Woodland TrustImage provided to Wharton by the Woodland Trust

4. Not nearly enough is being done

The report is a loud and clear warning sign that more needs to be done to protect and expand our woods and trees. We urgently need to scale up the many inspiring initiatives to create native woods, put more individual trees back in the landscape, and restore damaged woods.

Image provided to Wharton by the Woodland TrustImage provided to Wharton by the Woodland Trust

Priority actions

As a result of these findings, in order to help the UK’s woods, trees, wildlife and people, we recommend the following priority actions.

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Expand woodland tree cover

We need to at least quadruple the current rate of woodland creation and increase the proportion of UK-grown native species to help tackle the effects of climate change and give nature a fighting chance of recovery.

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Enhance and protect existing woods and trees

Enable native woods and trees to become a source of widespread nature recovery and improve people’s lives.

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Improve the evidence

Inventories of ancient woods and trees need to be frequently undertaken as well as regular assessment of important wildlife sites. Data gaps need filling and there needs to be systematic woodland and tree monitoring. 

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Invest in the future

Time, money, people and innovation are needed to take on the challenge and create opportunities for woods and trees.

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