How leading UK businesses are coming together to take action for climate and nature
The UK Reforestation Coalition, founded by leading UK businesses Lloyds Banking Group, OVO Energy and DFS Group, along with the UK's leading woodland conservation charity the Woodland Trust, will support the UK's target of planting 30,000 hectares of trees each year, between now and 2030.
By taking collective action at scale, the coalition will significantly contribute to the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) target to increase UK tree cover from 13% to 19% by 2050 and help the UK to reach net-zero by 2050, whilst tackling devastating nature loss.
Over the last five years, the rate of UK woodland expansion has been on average just under 10,000ha per year – with only 45% comprising native broadleaved trees. The UK is failing to reach anywhere close to the target of around 30,000ha per year that is needed which is why businesses have stepped up to drive this agenda forwards.
A key aim of the UK Reforestation Coalition is to drive quality woodland expansion, ensuring that the full range of benefits afforded by trees are realised, rather than just supporting a race for carbon. By following the principle of right tree, right place, the UK Reforestation Coalition will ensure that their woodland creation not only captures carbon, but creates new habitats for nature to thrive, places which benefit the physical and mental health of local communities, and that planting builds resilience to climate change through alleviating flooding, shading and cooling building and streets, absorbing airborne pollutants, enriching soils and protecting crops.
The UK Reforestation Coalition will also work to protect and restore existing woodland. The landmark State of Woods and Trees Report, published earlier this year, highlighted that only 7% of UK woodland is in good overall condition. This, combined with the loss of trees outside woods, has led to the decline of woodland wildlife. The data shows that woodland birds have declined by 29% since 1970, and woodland butterflies by 41% since 1990 – statistics which sadly bring the phrase ‘biodiversity crises’ to life. A key pillar of our protection work will be to only plant new trees which have been sourced and grown in the UK and Ireland, preventing the import of devastating pests and diseases which can destroy our native species.
There are clear business benefits in supporting high-quality woodland creation and restoration. This work supports businesses to become leaders in sustainability, strengthening the reputation of a business amongst customers, employees and business and ecosystem partners, and it demonstrates commitment to the countries in which they operate.
Investment in woodland creation and restoration also builds business resilience. It protects businesses against the loss of natural capital and physical effects of climate change, whilst allowing them to prepare for shifts in investor and consumer decision making. As governments look to introducing new regulations to address nature loss and climate change, investing in woodland offers an opportunity for businesses to stay ahead of these policy shifts.
Coming together with the UK Reforestation Coalition enables members to amplify their individual actions. It gives access to a collaborative network of like-minded businesses who are investing in nature, to share practical solutions and best practice in delivering tree-planting on the ground. It also provides a platform for collective advocacy – a powerful voice from the private sector to advocate in support of high quality and high-integrity tree planting in the UK.
Fiona Cannon, Group Sustainable Business Director, Lloyds Banking Group said: “As one of the UK’s largest financial services organisations, we recognise that we have a role to play to support the UK’s transition to a low carbon future. Our partnership with the Woodland Trust and commitment to plant 10 million trees by the end of the decade is our contribution to the Committee for Climate Change’s target of 50 million trees needed each year to 2050. We also understand the power of businesses uniting towards a common goal.
“The UK Reforestation Coalition presents a unique opportunity for businesses to come together with the potential to deliver significant progress towards the Committee for Climate Change’s target. Lloyds Banking Group is so pleased to have partnered with the Woodland Trust to establish this Coalition and to be joined from the outset by leaders at the DFS Group and OVO Energy. Together, we’ve committed to plant more than three million trees a year. It’s a great start but there is more to do, so we’d encourage any business thinking about the part they can play in helping the UK’s reforestation efforts to step forward now and join us.”
We have made a really positive start, but collectively, we need to do more. Membership of the UK Reforestation Coalition is open to any business that is already supporting, or wishes to support woodland creation at scale via a range of delivery providers, and those that take a nature-based approach to woodland creation.
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