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More trees in the UK

 The Forestry Ciommission puts out an annual report on the area of woodland in the UK. Europe has around 40% of all its area under woodland and the UK has a mere 13%. Here is a quote:

 Forestry Statistics 2021: Chapter 1 Woodland Area & Planting The area of woodland in the UK at 31 March 2021 is estimated to be 3.2 million hectares. This represents 13% of the total land area in the UK, 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland.   13.3 thousand hectares of new woodland were created in the UK in 2020- 2021, with conifers accounting for 55% of this area. 

Q1.  If the UK had an ambition to change the area under woodland to match the EU in the next twenty years (starting from when you tackle this problem), how many million hectares, Mha to 2s.f., does that represent?

Q2. If planting was equal each year (it wouldn't be) then how many kilohectares (kha, 2s.f.) does that represent per year?

Q3  Given the current rate of planting, this is a lot more than ten times the same rate of planting. What multiplication factor does this represent?

Q4   To raise English woodland area from its currrent level to 40% requires a lot of land to become available for planting. Total English woodland in 2020-21 is about 1.3Mha of the 3.2Mha of UK woodland.  Applying the same idea, twenty years of equal planting rate to achieve 40% coverage, how does this convert to kha/year in England?

Q5 The whole of Dartmoor National Park is 953 km² and you can look the area of all the National Parks here. Dartmoor has very little tree planting, so let us assume that this is as low as 5%. Would all the additional planting for England fit on Dartmoor and, if it does, what percentage of Dartmoor would then be woodland? If the additional trees will not fit on Dartmoor, then if we were to plant woodland so that half of Dartmoor was under trees (an additional 45%), what would that represent as a percentage of Enlgand's are under woodland


Q6 The Lake District National Park is 2362 km², so let's cover this with 50% woodland and again express this as a percentage of England's area.

Q7 The total areas of all our national parks in England, Wales and Scotland and Wales are 12154 , 4113 and 12154 km² respectively a total of 22660 km². The area of England is 130279 km², of Wales is 20779 km² and Scotland is 77910 km².  As above, at 2021 10% of England and 15% of Wales is woodland. Compare the total national park area with the total woodland in England and Wales. 

Q8 If we covered all of the national parks with trees, how would this change the percentage of woodland for each of England, Wales and Scotland? And for the whole of the UK?

Q9 Campaigners for increased woodland think that 30% of the UK is an achievable figure, and by implication, the 40% that Europe enjoys is unlikely to be achieved. So if we move to a target of 30% of woodland, and if we cover fully half of all National Park land with trees (that's adding 45% in area) how much land do we still have to find to put under trees?

Q10 Given your results from this exercise, what sort of target for percentage of woodland in the UK do you think uk.gov might set?




A1  3.2 Mha x 40/13 = 9.8Mha  

A2 Extra required is 9.8-3.2 = 6.6Mha; 6.6/20 = 330kha / year   I left the full length calculation on my calculator and only then rounded to 2sf.

A3  330/13.3 = 25 to 2sf.      

A4 1.3 Mha is 10%, so 5.2Mha is 40%. The change of 3.9Mha over 20 years is 195kha per year. 

A5 100 ha = 1 km², 953km² = 95.3kha = 0.0953 Mha more trees imagined on Dartmoor. This is a lot smaller than the 3.9 Mha from Q4. No they won't all fit on Dartmoor.    [13% of the UK is 3.2Mha, not wanted.] 10% of England is 1.3Mha so an additional 0.095Mha makes very little difference, 10 x 0.095/1.3 =  0.73%  

A6  2362 km² = 236200 ha = 236.2 kha = 0.2362 Mha   10 x 0.2362 / 1.3 = 1.82, or about 2%.  If the figures were applied to the whole of the UK, this would be a bit less than 1% as increase.

A7 10% of 130279 + 15% of 20779 = 16145 km² very siimilar to 16267 km². 

A8 England 12154/130279 =  9.3% more, 19% new total

Wales 4113/20779 = 19.8% so new total 35% to 2sf.

Scotland 6393/77910 = 8.2% so new total 27% to 2sf.

A better answer takes 5% of each national park to be woodland, so each percentage answer needs to be reduced by that amount, so the additional percentages are 8.8%, 18.8% and 7.8%, with the 'new totals' resepctively 19% (still), 34% and 27%. 

Whole UK 22660/(130279+20779+77910) = 22660/228968 = 9.9%, so new total of 23%.  So moving the UK from 13% to 23% represents putting all of our national parks under trees. Moving us to 30% requires a simlar area to be found for woodland. Taking the new woodland to be 95% of the national parks reduces the 9.9% to 9.4%.

A9  45% of national parks is 0.45x22660 km² = 10197 km²  30% of England, Wales and Scotland above is 0.3 x 228968 = 68690 km² so 58493 km² yet to be found to reach 30% woodland. Some will notice that Northern Ireland is missing, as are islands such as the Isle of Man. 58493 km² is 25.5% of the land area and represents a target unlikely to be achieved unbless we change attitudes radically

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