A report commissioned by the UK Forestry Commission was presented on 25 November 2009 to government, UK and foreign academics, forestry and other experts and 'green' organisations. The expert panel of scientists who published the report was chaired by Sir David Read, recently Vice-President of the Royal Society and currently Emeritus Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield.
Concurring with the Report panel's findings the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn, said ways to finance the necessary increase in woodland production were being sought. These efforts are ongoing.
Here are some of the Report's conclusions in brief:
By increasing tree cover we can lock up carbon directly and create other benefits, e.g. flood mitigation.
Using more wood for fuel and construction means using less gas, oil and coal.
Sustainably produced timber should be substituted for less environmentally-friendly materials, like coal. Biomass for heating is the way forward being both cost effective and environmentally acceptable.
If the UK increases its current planting rate by 200% woodland cover would rise to 16% of the nation's land area (still leaving us way below Europe's 37% forested land area).
Carbon storage is more efficient in young growing trees - the UK's existing forests are mostly very old.
Wood felled for furniture, etc. keeps its carbon locked in - an estimated 10 million tonnes of carbon could be stored in new and refurbished homes by 2019.
Wood sustainably produced for fuel could save 7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions p/a over the next 5 years - by replacing fossil fuels.
Some European trees might need to be included in the native woodlands to cope with the effects of the climate change already happening.
Vigorous planting schemes are needed in cities and towns to control temperature and water runoff and for the many other benefits trees offer.
More information on this at the Forestry Commission website.