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More Trees Please – Government spending less than £1 per person on trees

news release

With National Tree Week – and the winter tree planting season – starting on 23rd November, Manchester Friends of the Earth are joining forces with City of Trees and Tameside Council to plant 500 trees in Sunnybank Park, Droylsden on Sunday 24th November. [1]

Trees play an incredible role in combating climate chaos by removing planet-wrecking emissions from the air around us. Despite their importance, just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (compared to an EU average of 35%).

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for UK tree cover to be doubled as part of the fight against the climate crisis. The environmental group estimates that doubling tree cover will require public investment of approximately £500m per year – around 10 times current government spending on trees. [2]

Friends of the Earth has published analysis showing the governments of England, Wales and Scotland spend less than £1 per person per year on trees. This drops to just 20p per head when focussing on England. Scotland has increased its forestry budgets for 2019-20. [3]. 

Key findings:

  • Funding in England fell by 43% to £13.5 million during the year 2017-18, meaning just 20p per head was spent on trees.
  • UK-wide funding for tree planting, woodlands and forestry has been declining in recent years, following a relative high point in 2013-14 of £73.5 million, to £56.1 million in 2017-18.
  • Wales and Scotland have seen funding increases, but still lower than respective high points of 2012-13 and 2014-15. [4]

Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth nature campaigner said:

“This Tree Week, Friends of the Earth are calling for the next UK government to properly fund the doubling of tree cover. This is one of the key solutions to solving the climate crisis but has been shockingly underfunded for years.

“We’re grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who have funded 500 trees to be planted at Sunnybank Park in Tameside. This event will play a part in City of Trees’ long term goal of planting 3 million more trees in Greater Manchester.”

Friends of the Earth is supporting community tree planting events in Oxford, Enfield, Manchester and Nottingham during National Tree Week (23rd – 30th November). For more information on these see the events section on the Friends of the Earth Facebook page. [5]


Contacts for comment:

Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth. Mobile: 07951 642858.   Email:

Estelle Worthington, Friends of the Earth North West campaigner, Mobile: 07764 364236.   Email:

Notes to editors

1)    Sunday 24 November 10am – 2pm; Sunnybank Park, Lewis Road, Droylsden, M43 6WR. See Join City of Trees and Friends of the Earth to plant 500 trees in Sunnybank Park – Sunday 24th November for more details.

2)    Friends of the Earth wants to double tree cover as part of our fight against climate chaos. Find out more about Friends of the Earth’s tree campaign and sign the petition calling for the next government to double tree cover by visiting

3)    *In 2017-18, government funding for planting and management of trees, woodland and forestry in England, Scotland and Wales fell to around £56 million. Northern Ireland funding pushes that figure closer to £60 million a year but even allowing for an increase in Scottish forestry budgets in 2019-20, UK governments are only spending less than £1 per person per year on trees. This drops to just 20p per head when focussing on England. Figures based on latest ONS population data.

4)    Read Public funding for UK trees, woodlands and forests by Friends of the Earth’s insight team.

5)    Interviews available with Friends of the Earth tree campaigners

Filming opportunities at tree planting events in London, Manchester and Oxford

See here for case studies of communities fighting for trees.

6)    Friends of the Earth’s campaign to double tree cover is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

7)    Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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