Climate change is at our doorstep
There is a terrifying reality right at our doorstep. This reality is that the UK’s climate is changing, and at a rapid pace. Even with very ambitious goals to scale back greenhouse gas emissions globally, some further climate change is inevitable up to at least 2050.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended that the UK must adopt a net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target for 2050 and on June 27, 2019, the UK Parliament amended the Climate Change Act (2008) to include a commitment to net-zero carbon emissions.
In light of these goals set by the Committee on Climate Change, we wanted to go into more detail on deforestation in the UK, why trees and forests are important and what we can do to help.
Deforestation in the UK
Although deforestation is most commonly associated with localities like the Amazon, Canada and Indonesia, deforestation is still a very real issue here in the UK. According to the Global Forest Watch, the UK lost 481 kha (Kilo Hectares) of tree cover from 2001 to 2020, this is equivalent to a 13% decrease in tree cover since 2000. Currently, the rate of new woodlands being planted is not enough to substitute for the loss that is occurring. This means there is a very real prospect that we’re in a state of deforestation.
In the UK, ancient woodland is a diverse and rich habitat that sadly only now covers about 3% of the entire UK. Despite Britons being avid nature lovers, much of what we have left is being damaged. And once this habitat is gone, it can never be replaced.
Why we need trees and forests
Trees have an amazing ability to absorb CO2 in the atmosphere and store the carbon within their structure.
The rich soil in the forest floor is packed with microorganisms that are able to draw in even more carbon and store it safely away. However when trees are cut down the CO2 is released back into the atmosphere, this is very harmful to the environment, in fact, deforestation accounts for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The bottom line is that we need more new woods and trees. As well as helping reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, trees and have many other benefits that help our ecosystem such as:
- Reducing flood risk and soil erosion
- Offering shade and shelter for livestock
- Creating habitat for wildlife including pollinating insects
British woodlands need restoration
As we have established, trees, woodlands, and forests play an integral role in greenhouse gas removal. The CCC has recommended that we aim to plant around 30,000 hectares of new woodland in the UK every year until 2050.
One of the ways to stop this destruction from happening is through restoration. Through the restoration, we can stop the damage, encourage these habitats to recover and reverse years of decline.
How can YOU help?
1. Do your Research
The more you know, the easier it is to make a difference. It’s important to understand the main causes of deforestation to what can be done about it.
2. Spread awareness
Not everyone is aware of the level of deforestation that is happening in the UK. Speaking to friends, family or being vocal about the issue on social media has an impact. For change to take place it’s important everyone is aware of the issues at hand.
3. Speak up to protect the forests
The UK Government has been putting in place new laws that could bring an end to our role in the destruction of beautiful places like the Amazon. This was considered, in part, because of the letters, petitions and campaigns from regular people, showing that the public has the power to encourage our government to act.
We recommend regularly checking sites like petition.parliament.uk and signing relevant petitions relating to deforestation and tree planting in the UK.
There are also organisations like The Climate Coalition who aim to help these issues on a local level, they run campaigns to ask MPs to put people, climate and nature at the heart of our nation’s recovery.
4. Choose the tree-friendly option
From the food we eat to the services we use, the items we consume all have an impact on the environment. It is important to remember that we have a choice to shop sustainably and research the companies we use.
There are many companies out there with an ecological mindset that aims to have a positive impact on the planet. We recommend looking for companies that have partnered with eco-friendly organisations and charities such as B Corp, 1% for the Planet, and companies that have their own tree-planting initiatives.
Here at Neo, we fully understand the importance of restoring British woodland and protecting pre-existing forests. For every cremation we carry out we plant a tree in the loved one’s memory in the Scottish Highlands. This not only offsets the carbon produced in the cremation process but also works towards restoring the Caledonian forest, turning grassy hillsides into lush vast woodland. You can read more about our tree planting initiative here.