Morrisons has employed a team of ‘Tree Advisors’, who will guide UK farmers on the best species of trees to plant, where to plant them, and how to manage their woodland.
The initiative aims to strengthen the environmental efforts of farmers without impacting their farms.
Morrisons Tree Advisors
The so called Tree Advisors, based at the Forest Canopy Foundation and funded by Morrisons, will work with the retailer's network of 3,000 farmers to plant the trees in the right place, help gain access to government and grant funding to cover costs, and bring in additional income from their woodland projects.
The initiative, in partnership with Natural England and the Forestry Commission, forms part of Morrisons plan to directly source from net-zero British farms by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040.
Farmers from the chain's 50 net-zero blueprint farms will be the first to be offered access to the scheme, which will be rolled out more widely in the coming months, the retailer added.
Sophie Throup, head of agriculture at Morrisons, said, “As British farming’s biggest customer, we have a responsibility to help our farmers overcome the challenges of working more sustainably. Many farmers, while recognising the value of trees in their landscape, are worried that tree planting initiatives will mean that valuable land is taken from food production - even when funded by the government. We want to take this worry away and help farmers identify what trees work for them on their farm, in the right places and for the right reasons.”
Need For Tree-Planting
UK agriculture currently accounts for 10% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions.
Trees and woodlands are a key part of farming sustainably as they store carbon, limit soil erosion, prevent flooding, control erosion on watercourses, and help provide habitat for wildlife.
New government targets have outlined that approximately 7,000 hectares of woodlands should be planted by 2024, Morrisons noted.
Winter storms across the UK have contributed to the felling of millions of trees.
It is anticipated that Storm Arwen in November 2021 led to the loss of 8 million trees over 4,000 hectares.
Woodland Carbon Guarantee Programme
In 2019, the UK government launched the Woodland Carbon Guarantee programme to boost tree-planting rates and create new woodland in return for payment.
The scheme offered £50 million to land managers who planted trees to sequester carbon and who could sell ‘woodland carbon units’ back to the government.
Government support has also been offered by the England Woodland Creation Offer, along with grants from the Countryside Stewardship and the Woodland Trust.
This funding has been welcomed by farmers, who whilst understanding the need for tree-planting, have also raised concerns about the investment needed to fund saplings and that planting could encroach on land set aside for food production.