More trees needed in Wigan to help in climate change fight
The borough may be 75 per cent open land and countryside, but environmental campaigners warn that years of deforestation has left areas of the UK lacking in “one of its biggest natural allies” in the fight against climate change.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main greenhouse gas – from the air and convert it into wood and oxygen in a process known as carbon sequestration.
Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reveals that woodland in Wigan sequestrated 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per hectare in 2017 – the latest available figures. It means trees captured around 6,600 tonnes of carbon, according to that year’s land size figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Different data from the BEIS department shows Wigan emitted 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 the same year, meaning trees would have absorbed just 0.5 per cent of the carbon released into the air.
The ONS measures the amount of money saved by carbon sequestration based on how much would have to be spent to meet emissions targets if the CO2 had to be removed from the atmosphere by other means.
In Wigan, this socio-economic benefit was estimated to be £23 per hectare.
As part of its 25-year plan to improve the UK’s air and water quality, the Government’s Woodland Carbon Guarantee incentivises tree planting by allowing land managers to sell the carbon dioxide they capture in the form of “carbon credits”.
It was first announced in the 2018 autumn budget with the aim of accelerating woodland planting rates.
Councils, community and volunteer groups in England can also apply for a share of the Government’s £10m Urban Tree Challenge Fund, to increase tree numbers across the country’s towns and cities.
However, environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth says the Government needs to “step up” and further boost its spending on trees. Emi Murphy, at Friends of the Earth, said:
“Decades of woodland destruction has left us severely lacking in one of the biggest natural allies in the fight against climate breakdown.”