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Tree Planting

Volume 115: debated on Wednesday 6 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total cost of all the tree planting funded directly or indirectly by his Department in 1985; what percentage of the trees have survived; and if he will make a statement.

The Department funds the Countryside Commission, which paid £1·6 million in conservation grants, principally for tree planting, in 1985–86. A sample of trees planted previously with commission aid showed a median survival rate of 77 per cent. Planting by the Department directly during 1985 in the royal parks totalled some £50,000.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I am sure he appreciates that it is not the number of trees that are planted that is important, but the number that survive. Is he aware that in order to get the maximum number of trees to survive it is important that sufficient is spent on maintenance and not just on planting? I urge him to ensure that, however much tree planting is done, the right balance is maintained between maintenance and planting so that we can get the maximum survival rate, so as to beautify our countryside.

My hon. Friend is quite right. The Countryside Commission survival rate figures are not bad. What my hon. Friend says will have to be taken into account in, for example, any new farm planting schemes.

In commending the work of my hon. Friend's Department and other Departments, including particularly the Department of Transport, in tree planting schemes, may I ask whether he agrees that the real role of Government should be to offer expertise and encourage to people to plant trees? To that end, does he think that the time is now propitious to have another national tree year?

That may well be a good suggestion and perhaps it should be taken forward in the context of the work of the European Year of the Environment Committee. I pay tribute to the work being done all over Britain by farming and wildlife advisory groups on tree planting on farms.