UK’s Mass Forestry Scheme Faces Massive Hurdle in the Form of Drought

The mass forestry plan of the UK government is under threat from drought. International meeting in London learns that the tree project is essential to the net-zero strategies.

(Photo : Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Facing a Terrible Hurdle

The top plant health officer has warned that the drought might jeopardize the UK government’s intention to plant trees.

At the world’s first international plant health conference, which took place in London on Wednesday, Nicola Spence explained that arid circumstances had produced heat stress in the young seedlings, making them prone to disease.

Before the 2024 general election, the administration pledged to triple the nation’s tree cover through mass forestry initiatives. This objective was to aid in boosting biodiversity, capturing carbon, and strengthening landscapes’ drought and flood resistance.

However, the extreme dryness of this year has endangered this since many newly planted trees cannot withstand the stress.

Spence said the effect on the trees in our countryside is evident, adding, “I am incredibly concerned about trees that have been recently planted as part of our government’s attempt to treble the quantity of tree planting. Therefore, we must pay close attention to establishing such trees.

The ash dieback, chestnut blight, and oak processionary moth are among the diseases and pests that harm trees in the UK.

Also Read: No Pumpkin For Halloween: Heat Waves Threatens the Holiday Staple  

Net-Zero Strat

Since George Eustice, the previous environment secretary, declared tree planting to be a “central pillar” of the government’s net-zero strategies, the danger to the program is alarming.

By May 2024, it is planned to establish 7,000 hectares of woods annually.

The climate crisis is making some pests more prevalent and increasing the susceptibility of plants to disease because it weakens them and increases their vulnerability to pests. The bacterial illness xylella fastidiosa, which recently destroyed whole olive trees in continental Europe, is one recent illustration of how this might reduce agricultural output.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), up to 40% of the world’s crop production is lost annually to plant pests and diseases, costing the global economy more than $220 billion (£194 billion), while invasive insects are responsible for losses of at least $70 billion.

Participants at the conference emphasized the need to employ natural recovery techniques to reduce pesticide use for food security. This is since minimizing pesticide usage and promoting biodiversity assist in maintaining a healthy population of predatory insects, which in turn prey on various pests.

Gardening Trends Amidst Heat

To encourage farmers to participate in integrated pest management programs meant to replace the EU’s basic payment program, the English government is now considering paying farmers to do so. There are worries, meanwhile, that the Liz Truss government intends to reverse these measures.

Gardeners in the UK are choosing more Mediterranean plants, such as olive trees, since they can tolerate drier conditions due to global warming. Although xylella fastidiosa, which may also wipe out common herbs like rosemary, numerous garden plants, and some fruit harvests, might put the nation in danger due to this trend. 600 distinct popular plant species are susceptible.

Related Article: Megadroughts Continue to Plague the World: How Long Will It Last?  

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