ANCIENT woodland in Warwickshire is on the frontline in the UK’s fight for trees say environmentalists.
The county has been identified by green campaign group Friends of the Earth as among those in desperate need of more trees to replace those set to be lost to the HS2 rail project.
The controversial high speed line linking London and Birmingham will stretch for 190km – of which 54km will cut through the heart of Warwickshire – will result in the loss of woodland, including in Cubbington and around Kenilworth.
Stop HS2 campaign manager and Kenilworth resident Joe Rukin said: “The scale of deforestation HS2 could bring is devastating. If you take just the two miles between Kenilworth and Burton Green you’ll find over half a dozen ancient woodlands that are threatened.
“These are all ancient remnants of the Forest of Arden, meaning we’d see all sorts of native tree species and irreplaceable habitats destroyed.
“These natural spaces benefit us all and must be protected for generations to come, yet in defiance of all the evidence we have politicians who have been courted by vested interest lobbyists and have been conned into believing HS2 would be good for the environment.”
HS2 bosses have plans in place to counteract the destruction to woodland and wildlife.
A ‘green corridor’ is set to include seven million new trees and shrubs with the aim of helping integrate the line into the surrounding landscape and environment.
A spokeswoman said it was ‘imperative’ for the project to ‘set a new standard for preserving, protecting and enhancing our diverse woodlands and wildlife’ and called the tree-planting project ‘the most significant ever undertaken in the country’.
But the plans recently faced criticism after some 90,000 saplings, of 237,000 planted, died following the drought last summer.
HS2 responded it was cheaper to have them replanted rather than water the saplings.
To offset tree loss caused by the HS2 and other major developments, Friends of the Earth is calling for a ‘tree drive’ to double UK woodlands by 2045.
According to the group just 13 per cent of the UK’s total land area has woodland cover compared to an EU average of 35 per cent.
A spokeswoman explained trees were important in removing ‘climate-wrecking carbon’ from the atmosphere.
And the campaigners are now lobbying the government for support and for communities in Warwickshire to help kickstart the mission.
Visit friendsoftheearth.uk for more information on the campaign.