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Our ambition to establish 20 million trees to tackle climate change

Rangers planting trees to help tackle climate change at Hafod Garegog, Snowdonia, Wales
Rangers planting trees at Hafod Garegog, Snowdonia, Wales | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

The most important thing we need to do to tackle climate change is drastically reduce carbon emissions – but alongside that essential work, trees are the best natural solution to lock up existing atmospheric carbon. We’re aiming to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030 to benefit people and nature. Find out how the project is progressing across the country and discover how trees capture carbon.

Why we're planting and establishing trees

We need to act quickly to tackle the worst consequences of the climate crisis and global warming driven by carbon dioxide emissions. As the UK's single biggest private landowner we're in a strong position to help. Planting and establishing more trees will capture carbon from the atmosphere as they grow.

One tree could remove 1 tonne of carbon dioxide from the air over its lifetime. The carbon is not only stored by the tree and the roots but also held in the surrounding soil. As trees grow they absorb and lock in carbon emissions that would otherwise contribute to global heating.

Tree planting at Lodge Park on the Sherborne Estate, Gloucestershire
Tree planting at Lodge Park on the Sherborne Estate, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Planting trees to benefit everyone

Woodlands reconnect us with nature. Of the 250,000 hectares of land the National Trust cares for, 10 per cent is woodland. We have made a commitment to increase this to 17 per cent over the next 10 years, meaning we will be planting 20 million trees over the next decade.

Trees have an amazing ability to provide space to breathe and relax, provide a home for nature to thrive and allow us to lock up carbon.

A quote by John DeakinNational Trust Head of Trees and Woodland

Our approach to tree establishment ensures we maximise the benefit for people and nature, as well as locking up carbon. We'll establish new hedgerows and woodlands as well as creating innovative agroforestry projects and restoring historic wood pasture and orchards – and increasing tree cover in other settings.

We'll help tenant farmers use trees in ways that are beneficial to them. This could involve generating income from ecosystem services such as flood mitigation and increases in biodiversity, improving shelter and shading for livestock, or by cultivating sustainably grown timber. Each project will be tailored to suit the needs of the landscape, habitat or historic place, and with a focus on the benefit it will provide for people.

Choosing the right trees

All the trees will be grown from seed in the UK by nurseries that have very high standards of biosecurity and provenance control – we typically use nurseries in the Plant Healthy or UK & Ireland Sourced and Grown schemes. Natural colonisation will also play a significant role and many trees will establish naturally as we change the management of the land we care for.

Where we do plant, tree species will be carefully chosen with site detail in mind. New native woodlands may include species such as oak, beech, lime, field maple, hazel and hawthorn to support the area's existing ecosystem, while ornamental varieties may be more appropriate where we’re restoring historic designed landscapes.

We have to take actions that can be delivered within the timescales needed to tackle the climate crisis we're facing. The science tells us that tree planting is one of the best ways to absorb carbon. We know it works and there's no time to lose.

A quote by John DeakinNational Trust Head of Trees and Woodland
Rangers and volunteers planting lime saplings in the parkland at Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate, Gloucestershire
Rangers and volunteers planting lime saplings in the parkland at Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/Cara Laver

Latest project updates


Project update 2023

Throughout the 2022 and 2023 planting season, we planted trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Planting projects included woodland, orchards and hedgerows at Nymans in West Sussex, three miles of hedgerows at Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd in Shropshire and 28,000 trees at the Colby Estate in Pembrokeshire. These have all been funded by donations to our Plant a Tree fund.

Check back here soon for more information on the partners who have helped us in our tree planting goals for 2022 and 2023. 

Rangers tree planting at Tughall Mill, Northumberland Coast

Help plant more trees

For only £5, you could help to plant a tree that will tackle climate change and support life for years to come. Your support will help to plant and establish 20 million trees by 2030.

Our partners

Fundraising Regulator

The independent regulator of charitable fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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Cotswold Outdoor

We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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We’ve partnered with HSBC UK to create carbon-rich habitats.

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Woodland Trust

The UK's largest woodland conservation charity.

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