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November 3, 2021

“Deliver funding to turn policy into practice”

In ‘Wood for the Trees,’ a series of short films about Britain’s forests, we asked experts about their hopes and fears for the future of our woodlands, and for suggestions to secure their future. 

At Knepp we spoke to Alastair Driver, director of Rewilding Britain, and asked him what part trees play in the rewilding process. He said “trees and scrub are an essential part of a natural healthy ecosystem in temperate Britain but we’ve cleared so much of the landscape historically. It’s essential that we encourage their recovery via rewilding schemes – we want to restore a natural healthy functioning ecosystem and trees have a vital part to play in that” 

“But do you need to plant or can you allow natural regeneration? That answer depends on where you are in the country, depends on the proximity of good tree seed sources, the variety of those sources, and it depends on local climate topography – how harsh the environment is. Down here in the in the warm southeast in a very treed landscape natural regeneration is the way to go and Knepp’s proven that. You don’t need to plant here, trees will find their way”

When we asked what he thought of the government’s tree planting targets, he said “the government’s tree planting targets targets are, to be honest woefully short of what they need to be, we really should be aspiring to something like around 25, 30 percent tree cover in this country, that is entirely possible without it compromising existing food production. However, we are where we are, it is challenging enough to deliver a couple of percent increase. Rewilding Britain and others will keep pressure on the government to be more ambitious as time passes. We are moving in the right direction with policy, we’re not moving fast enough and we’re not being bold enough.”

“I guess my main hope for rewilding is, it just carries on as it is because the level of interest gone through the roof in the last couple of years. But we we need to make sure that government turns fine words into action now, we’ve persuaded government on several areas of policy in principle now they need to deliver on funding and hard policy and practice.”

Watch ‘A better future for our woodlands: 12 ideas to help Britain’s forests grow’

Watch the full interview with Alastair in part 10 of wood for the trees: Rewilding: Regenerating the Treescape. 

For more information and to see the whole series, visit

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