Labour to create ten national parks in first term and plant 2bn trees by 2040

Elliot Chappell

Jeremy Corbyn and Sue Hayman are set to announce that a Labour government would create ten new national parks in England in the first term and plant two billion trees by 2040.

At the launch of Labour’s ‘Plan for Nature’ on Thursday, the Labour leader and environment spokesperson will outline proposals for habitat restoration and tree planting included in the £3.7bn investment from the green transformation fund.

The programme being proposed includes £1.2bn to restore natural habitats such as woodland and meadows in England and provides £75m a year extra for national park authorities.

£2.5bn would be made available for tree planting in national parks and the national forest, as well as urban parks, farmland, community woodlands, schools and publicly owned land.

Speaking at the launch event, Corbyn is expected to say: “This election is our last chance to tackle the climate and environment emergency. Labour is on your side and on the side of the environment.

“We’ll expand and restore our habitats and plant trees so that we can create natural solutions to bring down emissions and allow our wildlife to flourish.

“Labour created the first national parks, and we’ll create ten more, giving people the access to the green spaces so vital for our collective wellbeing and mental health.”

Under Labour’s plan, 75% of the English population will live within 30 minutes of a national park or an area of outstanding beauty by 2030, according to the party.

As well as restored parks, pathways, cycling routes and canals, the ‘Plan for Nature’ is designed to create ‘natural corridors’ that will allow animal migration, seed dispersal and provide habitats in their own right.

Labour says it will increase funding to national park authorities by 50% to enable them to provide natural solutions to the climate emergency. Since 2010, the government has cut national park authority funding by 20%.

Labour’s environment spokesperson, Sue Hayman, will say: “Years of Tory austerity have had a devastating impact on our natural world with the UK set to miss almost all of its international biodiversity targets. Wildlife populations are collapsing, ecosystems are breaking down and temperatures are rising at an alarming rate.

“Labour’s Plan for Nature provides the vision needed to kick start the recovery and protection of our natural world. Our strategy will not just work to undo years of Tory neglect and damage to our environment, but will actively improve environmental outcomes, creating a more accessible, clean and green environment for generations to come.”

According to the organisation Rewilding Britain, nature restoration plans such as this could store up to 47 million tonnes of CO2 each year by 2050 – more than Finland’s annual emissions.

Potential sites for the new parks include Malvern Hills, Chiltern Hills, Lincolnshire Wolds and North Pennines. The choice will be informed by the current state of environmental degradation, the potential for carbon sequestration and biodiversity net gain.

The party estimates 20,000 new green jobs will be created in forestry management and timber trades as part of the party’s wider plans for a green industrial revolution that would give rise to a total of one million green jobs.

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