'A quarter of the UK’s land could be restored to nature, making a significant contribution towards cutting the nation’s carbon emissions to zero, under a new rewilding proposal.
The plan, published by Rewilding Britain, calls for billions of pounds in farm subsidies to be redirected towards creating native woodlands and meadows and protecting peat bogs and salt marshes. The group says wildlife would benefit, farmers would not lose money and food production need not fall.
The environment secretary, Michael Gove, is in favour of natural solutions to the climate crisis and huge losses of wildlife, and the government has pledged it will ensure “public money is spent on public goods” after the UK leaves the EU’s subsidy regime.
Currently these subsidies total £3bn a year, with 13% going to environmental schemes. The new plan anticipates £1.9bn being used to support action on global heating and wildlife. The scheme would create 2m hectares (4.94m acres) of new woodland and 2m hectares of species-rich meadows, and ensure full protection of the UK’s 2m hectares of peat bogs and heaths.
These ecosystems would absorb and store carbon dioxide equivalent to 10% of the UK’s annual emissions. The government’s official climate advisers reported this month that UK emissions must fall to zero by 2050. But the Committee on Climate Change said some activities, such as flying, would still cause emissions, meaning tree growing and other measures to suck CO2 from the air are vital.'
Read more: Rewild a quarter of UK to fight climate crisis, campaigners urge