Green light given by government for ‘net zero’ equivalent for nature
The government has pledged to “halt the decline of nature” as part of a new drive to improve the environment and achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero overall by 2050. The government has proposed planting more trees, banning the sale of peat by 2024 and setting new targets in order to return species such as wildcats and beavers to the countryside. A legally binding 2030 target to address wildlife loss is also being implemented as part of the new measures.
Funding is to be provided in order to restore 35,000 hectares of degraded peatlands as healthy peatlands play a vital role in carbon sequestration, storing three times more carbon than forests. Currently, it is estimated that only one fifth of the UK’s peatlands are in good condition, which is causing up to 23 million tonnes of carbon to be emitted annually.
The government is also proposing to offer funding to incentivise farmers and landowners to plant more trees in order to reach its goal of increasing tree planting rates in England to 7,000 hectares of new woodland a year by 2024. Furthermore, three community forests will also be created in order to reduce carbon emissions.