Morrisons to send in ‘Tree Advisors’ to help its farmers boost woodland coverage

Morrisons has appointed a team of ‘Tree Advisors’ to help support its network of 3,000 farmers towards becoming more tree- and biodiversity-friendly, the supermarket announced today.

As part of a partnership with Natural England and the Forestry Commission, the tree advisors employed by Morrisons are set to provide specialist advice to UK farmers on “the best species of trees to plant, where to plant them and how to manage their woodland”, it explained.

These experts have been tapped to identify the best tree species and the most appropriate locations on a “case by case basis” to ensure farmers maximise the environmental benefits associated with tree planting. They will also help farmers gain government and grant funding to cover their costs as well as attracting additional income from their woodland projects, according to the supermarket.

“As British farming’s biggest customer, we have a responsibility to help our farmers overcome the challenges of working more sustainably,” said Sophie Throup, head of agriculture at Morrisons. “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.”

Morrisons said the latest initiative would help it deliver on its plan to become directly supplied by net zero British farms by 2030, and to become a net zero emissions supermarket by 2040. Farmers at Morrisons 50 ‘net zero blueprint farms’ will be the first offered access to the scheme, which it then plans to roll out more widely in the coming months, it said.

UK agriculture currently accounts for around 10 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, as well has impacting the natural world. As well as storing carbon, trees and woodlands can limit soil erosion, prevent flooding, control erosion on watercourses and provide habitats for habitat.

In 2019, the UK government launched the Woodland Carbon Guarantee to boost tree-planting rates and create new woodland in return for payment. The scheme offered £50m to land managers who planted trees to sequester carbon, and who could then sell ‘woodland carbon units’ back to the government, which is aiming to plant approximately 7,000 hectares of woodlands by 2024.

Last month, 12 woodland creation projects across England snapped up a share of £6m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed scheme that aims to create forestry jobs and improve public access to nature. That came hot on the heels of Defra’s announcement in May that five nature recovery projects spanning nearly 100,000 hectares would aim to “transform the public’s enjoyment of nature” in the West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, the Peak District, Norfolk and Somerset

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