Kent Plan Tree – our tree establishment strategy
Trees are vital to life on earth. As the biggest plants on the planet, they:
- give us oxygen
- store carbon
- stabilise and nourish soil
- cleanse and cool the air
- provide shelter and shade
- protect us from flooding
- give life and shelter to wildlife
- provide food, timber and medicine.
There are also numerous community benefits to planting trees. Tree planting events help residents take pride in their neighbourhood and become more engaged and connect with nature. Trees and woodland provide proven mental health benefits and encourage us to live more active lives.
However trees, and the wildlife they support, are in trouble. Existing native woodlands are isolated and in poor ecological condition. These factors, coupled with the widespread loss of ‘trees outside woods’ from the landscape, have contributed to a troubling decline in our biodiversity of 53% in the UK
Woodland species are in decline. Woods and trees are subject to a number of overlapping threats including direct loss, climate impacts, imported diseases, invasive plants, mammal browsing and air pollutants.
To reverse this trend, we adopted Kent Plan Tree in October 2022. This tree establishment strategy sets an ambition for Kent to extend tree cover by 1.5 million new trees and increase the county’s average canopy cover to 19%. Furthermore, our existing woodland and trees' health will be restored and afforded greater protection from loss.
Tree establishment in the county will be underpinned by four principles:
- Better management and protection of existing stock.
- The right tree, in the right place for the right reason, with the right management and right monitoring.
- Deliver multiple benefits.
- Ensure biosecurity of new tree stock through the application of strict standards.
Establishing the right trees in the right places will help deliver benefits for Kent’s wildlife, people, and economy. Through extending tree cover in Kent and delivering this strategy, we aim to:
- contribute to Kent County Council’s, and the county’s, net zero targets
- reduce and reverse the trend of decline in nature and loss of trees
- tackle the multiple threats to our trees
- deliver nature-based solutions to some of the county’s challenges
- provide enhanced and improved recreation and amenity
- address the decline in trees outside woodland and decline in urban trees
- realise the economic benefits
- increase our knowledge and provide better protection.
Plan Tree will be delivered by working in partnership with district and borough and town and parish councils, our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Units, the county’s Countryside Management Partnerships, Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission, Natural England and environmental charities. We will also bring together local communities, schools, businesses, and landowners to collaborate on tree establishment projects.
To find out more, read our Plan Tree Strategy (PDF, 3.1 MB).