Tree planting: Where can I do it and which type is best?

Dana Druka in a hammock in the Pentlands in Edinburgh Image copyright Dana Druka
Image caption Reader Dana Druka relaxing in the Pentlands in Edinburgh

A warning from climate change experts that the UK needs to quickly plant a lot more trees has prompted readers to ask how they can help.

At best we need to more than double the amount of trees we plant to achieve our carbon reduction targets, experts have said.

Here are some of the things our readers wanted to know about tree planting.

Can I plant trees anywhere?

Image copyright Stuart James
Image caption Stuart James asked how he could make a difference to the environment by planting trees

Stuart James, 27, from Bath, said he wanted to be "a part of the change we all need to make".

"I haven't got a lot of land but can you just plant trees wherever you like?" he asked.

You can plant trees in your own garden as long as roots and branches would not damage nearby properties, according to the Woodland Trust.

In England, you would not need planning permission to plant less than two hectares (20,000 sq metres) in a low risk area, it said.

Otherwise you would need an Environmental Impact Assessment from the Forestry Commission.

Trees can only be planted around your local area with the landowners' permission, The Tree Council warned.

You should not plant trees on archaeological sites, places with rare or protected species, grassland that has never been ploughed, wetlands and heathland, the Woodland Trust said.

Which are the best trees to plant?

Image copyright Trevor Ley
Image caption Alexander, six and Isaac, three, love looking after their garden

Trevor Ley, 43, from Woolwich in south east London, asked: "What small tree or plant could households grow in their gardens to best absorb carbon?

"I feel it is very important to support tree planting as, living in London, you see many green spaces disappear to become high-rise developments," he said.

Mr Ley said his children Alexander, six, and Isaac, three, enjoyed putting the gardening tips they learned at school into practice at home.

Long-living native species such as oak and maple are effective at storing carbon dioxide, according to the Woodland Trust.

But these could grow to be very large so trees such as Hazel, Blackthorn, Crab Apple and Goat Willow were suitable for smaller spaces, the trust said.

Medium-sized tree options include Elder, Field Maple, Hawthorn, Holly and Yew.

The Tree Council suggested people "copy nature by planting trees already successful on or near the site".

What can I do locally?

Image copyright Dana Druka
Image caption Dana Druka and her partner Owain Simpson trekked through the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia

Dana Druka, 24, from Scotland, now lives in Birmingham. She said she found it difficult to find a local tree planting scheme flexible enough to fit around university and work.

"I think planting trees can offer huge benefits," she said. "From improving personal fitness and mental health, creating wonderful shared spaces for communities and ultimately being proactive in fighting climate change."

Joshua Watkins, 18, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, said news articles and charities told people about the problems but not the solutions.

"If everyone did at least a little something then surely that's better than one organisation trying to do something big on their own?" he said.

The Tree Council has a national network of local tree volunteers and local councils should be able to point anyone in the right direction.

Many forests have schemes allowing people to dedicate a tree to a loved one.

Should developers plant one tree per new house?

Image copyright Natalie Parker
Image caption Natalie Parker suggested every new house should have a tree in the garden

Natalie Parker, 27, from Banbury in Oxfordshire, said: "I live on a established estate and have lots of trees to look at from my garden and love listening to the birds they attract.

"I think the government should introduce a rule that all new-build properties should plant a tree in the garden.

"Trees will attract wildlife to these new estates and also offer shade and privacy to residents."

Hazel Sniadowski got in touch to tell us that when she moved to Milton Keynes in 1984 she received a £10 tree voucher.

"If this scheme was rolled out it would help towards the carbon neutral aim," she said.

Even if every household with a garden in the UK planted two trees they would amount to 45 million.

This would still only be about 3% of the total number of trees the Woodland Trust has estimated the UK needs to plant by 2050 in order to reach net zero emissions - 1.5 billion.

Where can I go for more information?

Image copyright Chris Johns
Image caption Chris Johns' favourite leafy spot is Staffhurst Wood near Oxted in Surrey

Chris Johns, 65, from Hurst Green in Surrey, asked which organisations offered advice about planting trees.

"Apart from the CO2 benefits of woodlands they are so pleasant on the eye and on the soul - having more woodlands must be win-win," he said.

There are lots of resources on the websites of the Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, Royal Horticultural Society and The Tree Council.

This story was inspired by questions sent in by readers of Tree planting rise 'needs to happen quickly'

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