Deforestation in the UK: How do we stop it?
When you think of deforestation, you probably summon images of the Amazon rainforest or the Congo basin, not your local woodlands. But believe it or not, deforestation is an issue in the UK, as tree coverage figures in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland drop lower and lower each year.
In 2020 alone, the UK lost 4,150 hectares of natural forest and has seen tree coverage percentage decrease by 13% since 2000. Although it might not be the most well known cause, it is one worth being aware of.
What causes deforestation?
There are a number of causes of deforestation in the UK, including wildfires and shifting agriculture, but the biggest culprit of permanent deforestation is undoubtedly urbanisation. Be it to build housing developments or extend towns and cities, large quantities of trees are felled each year to accommodate new infrastructure and large scale construction projects. In fact, between 2001 and 2019, over 1,700 hectares of natural forest was destroyed due to urbanisation - equivalent to roughly 2,750 football pitches.
Why is deforestation bad?
Forests, and more specifically trees, play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem. Most importantly, trees use the process of photosynthesis to convert atmospheric CO2 into oxygen for humans and animals to breathe. Furthermore, trees store carbon and stabilise soil.
Forests also provide a thriving habitat for a huge range of wildlife, from insects to mammals to birds. Without trees, a vast number of animals would be left at risk of extinction. It is therefore incredibly important we preserve woodland areas and battle against deforestation.
How can we stop deforestation?
Although there are ways to prevent deforestation through online petitions and peaceful protesting both locally and nationally, an effective way to help maintain tree numbers is to counteract deforestation through the planting of new trees. There are numerous charities in the UK that are creating new forest areas and woodlands in an attempt to reduce the decline of tree coverage and its negative ramifications. One of these charities is The National Forest Company, which in the last year planted its 9 millionth tree as part of a project that has created a 200 square mile mixed habitat forest in the Midlands.
Donations to charities such as The National Forest Company can make a real impact in counteracting deforestation. Additionally, you can tackle the issue directly by planting your own trees in your garden or land.
To support charities that help counteract deforestation, or to give to any other causes that matter to you, download the Toucan app today to create a portfolio of up to three charities and split a monthly donation between them.