More of Ron’s resolutions to help cut pollution
Following last week’s article on New Year’s resolutions environment expert Ron Fox gives more of his green suggestions to help the UK reduce our carbon footprint.
Dig in and plant more trees
“I know this seems obvious, but despite all the Government assurances we still planted fewer trees from April to September 2020 than we did over the same period in the previous year,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park.
According to the Forestry Commission data about 1.3 million trees covering a total of 763 hectares were planted with Government support in England in those six months, down from 1.8 million on 1,045 hectares at the same time in 2019.
“Interestingly,” said Ron, “the Conservative manifesto promised to plant 30,000 hectares of trees every year in the UK by 2025 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated that pledge last month in his ten-point plan for addressing climate change.”
Confor, the trade body for the forestry industry, said the planting rate in England needed to increase ten-fold to hit the Government target. A Confor spokesman said one of the problems was that the procedures for tree planting applications and approvals are too slow, too complex, too costly and too cumbersome.
In 2019 a total of 13,660 hectares of trees were planted in the UK with 81 per cent planted in Scotland, 17 per cent in England, 1 per cent in Wales and 2 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Ron added: “Trees are vital for our environment as they provide oxygen, improve air quality, conserve water, preserve soil, enhance landscapes, stem flooding and support threatened wildlife. On top of that through the process of photosynthesis trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.”
Dig up plastic guards
“It may seem strange to be encouraging more tree planting and then criticising a method to help grow them,” said Ron.
“The problem is that millions of these tubes that are helping the saplings to grow and protect them from animals are at the same time polluting the forests.
“More than 200 million tubes up to 6ft tall, have been used in the past 40 years. But as they rot in the wild, they spread microplastic particles over hundreds of thousands of acres. These toxic polymers then end up into the soil and waterways.”
Tree guards, which last up to ten years, were invented in 1979 by researchers who found they acted like greenhouses boosting growth and also repelled animals such as deer, rabbits and voles from eating the saplings.
Another problem, said Ron, is many of these tree planting projects have been funded by the taxpayer with some government woodland grant schemes including a booster payment for landowners to use the plastic tubes without having to collect them later.
“The Government needs to look at these booster payments and also encourage a more environmentally friendly tree guard – or build fences instead to protect these new woodlands,” he concluded.
“For advice about green energy contact me on 0845 474 6641 – but in the meantime have a happy and peaceful New Year.”