Bishop of Salisbury asks about tree planting, species and habitat destruction

On 29th October the Bishop of Salisbury received written answers to two questions of Government, on (i) tree planting targets and (ii) working with business to address species and habitat destruction caused by UK supply chains:

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reach their tree planting target as set out in the Tree Planting Strategy; and if they have not reached that target, what assessment they have made of the reasons why they have not done so. [HL9249]

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: We committed in our manifesto to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.

As noted in a public paper this summer, we are exploring whether a statutory target for trees in England would be appropriate, under the target setting process proposed by the Environment Bill.

To increase planting in England, we recently consulted on proposals for a new ambitious England Tree Strategy, which will be published in spring 2021. This will set out priority policies and plans for the £640m Nature for Climate Fund.

The planting season begins soon, and we hope to build on the increasing annual planting rates seen in England over the last few years.

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Institute of Zoology Living Planet Report, published in September, what steps they are taking to work with business to address species and habitat destruction caused by UK supply chains. [HL9250]

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park: The Government regularly engages with businesses in the UK to support the transition to sustainable supply chains. For example, the Government has engaged with the UK Roundtable on Sourcing Sustainable Palm Oil since 2012, and the UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya since 2018 when it was established. With the support of roundtables the UK achieved 77% certified sustainable palm oil in 2018 – up from 16% in 2010. The Government also engages through the Council for Sustainable Business, who advises Defra on how businesses can help achieve the aims of the 25 Year Environment Plan. Biodiversity is one of the three challenges the Council is focusing on in 2020.

In July 2019 the Government convened the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) taskforce to investigate what the UK can do to reduce our global environmental footprint, fulfilling a 25 Year Environment Plan commitment. The GRI drew on a wide range of expertise from across business, finance and civil society and consulted over 200 businesses and organisations to formulate their final recommendations report, which was published in March this year. We are considering the GRI recommendations carefully and will issue a formal response in due course.

Drawing on the GRI recommendations, the Government recently consulted on whether to introduce a mandatory due diligence requirement to tackle climate change and prevent biodiversity loss in supply chains by making it illegal for larger businesses to use forest risk commodities that have not been produced in accordance with relevant local laws. The due diligence consultation closed on 5 October 2020, generating a wealth of responses including from businesses. We will be publishing a response on shortly, including a summary of the feedback received.

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