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Revealed: 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, 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.

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.  

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.

Read the full report from Friends of the Earth here.

Emi Murphy, trees campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“This Tree Week we’re 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.

“Faced with the climate emergency, and the dire impacts it will bring, we simply cannot afford not to fund trees.”

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.

Sanjay Singh, senior programmes advisor at People’s Postcode Lottery (which is supplying thousands of trees for Friends of the Earth planting events), said:

“We’re facing a climate and nature crisis and it’s local communities leading the fight to protect woodlands and plant more trees. Our players are funding a range of tree-planting initiatives across the country, and I’m pleased that they are also are able to support this crucial part of the fight against climate breakdown.”


For more information contact the Friends of the Earth press office on 020 7566 1649 / 07718 394786 (out of hours – please do not text this number)

Notes to editors

  1. Read Public funding for UK trees, woodlands and forests by Friends of the Earth’s insight team
  2. *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.
  3. 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
  4. About Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth is an international community dedicated to the protection of the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it. We bring together more than two million people in 75 countries, combining people power all over the world to transform local actions into global impact. For more information visit: follow us at @friends_earth, or like our Facebook page.
  5. Friends of the Earth’s campaign to double tree cover is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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