- Sir William Worsley, 63, said culling will help accelerate the rate of tree planting
- Chair of Forestry Commission called for grey squirrels to be renamed ‘tree rats’
- It follows PM promising to treble tree planting in the UK over the next five years
14th March 2020
Rabbits, hares and other animals should be culled to help accelerate the rate of tree planting in the UK, according to the Chair of the Forestry Commission.
Sir William Worsley, 63, also called for grey squirrels to be renamed ‘tree rats’ to encourage people to view them as pests rather than endearing animals.
It follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson promising in November last year to treble the amount of tree planting in the UK over the next five years.
Sir William said the plan will not work unless the shooting and trapping of animals is carried out, along with controlling the grey squirrel population.
He told The Times: ‘We have to control the number of squirrels, rabbits, hares and deer. If you plant a wood, if there are lots of rabbits around they will be smiling from ear to ear. Hares are exactly the same.
‘There’s nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing a deer running through the woods but I know the damage that deer will do.
‘If we as a nation want to make this investment in forestry we need to understand the necessity of managing that which will destroy the trees.’
He also believes grey squirrels should be called ‘tree rats’ as it passes on diseases to red squirrels and is more similar to an actual rat.
Mr Johnson previously announced a £640 million ‘Nature for Climate’ fund which forms part of Government efforts to hit the target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2050.
Under the proposals, the amount of land planted annually with new forests and woodland increases from 10,000 hectares to 30,000 in the next five years.
That is the equivalent of 46,000 football pitches. The Woodland Trust estimated that up to 1,000 trees can be planted on each hectare.
Mr Johnson said: ‘There is nothing more conservative than protecting our environment and these measures sit alongside our world-leading commitment to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.’
Trees suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and also help combat pollution and reduce flooding.