The British Army is to plant up to 2 million trees on military sites across the UK as one of its many initiatives to battle climate change.
An extensive survey across the UK military estate, carried out by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), has identified 25 sites that are suitable for woodland creation, totalling some 750 hectares - the equivalent of 1022 football pitches.
The initiative is one of many that the British Army is highlighting to mark World Environment Day.
From planting trees to managing peatland and from solar farms to eco-friendly vehicles, the British Army is playing its part to help defeat the evolving global enemy of climate change.
Two new foresters have been employed to manage the new woodland creation. Approximately 30,000 have already been plated by the forestry team, despite some tree planting projects being put on hold due to lockdown restrictions. This has created 10 hectares of new woodland, the majority of which is at Beckingham Training Area in Lincolnshire. In addition to this, 250,000 trees have been planted to replace trees felled as part of the woodland harvesting and management programme.
The DIO is the estate expert for the whole of Defence and is also in the process of carrying out extensive studies to understand the nature and extent of peatlands on the Training Estate. This will lead to a series of projects designed to reverse the drying-out of the peatland and re-activate the natural processes of peat formation.
The Army is one of the largest landowners in the UK and believes it is important to set an example by making its garrisons self-sustainable in terms of their energy needs.
In addition to tree planting initiatives, the Army is piloting carbon-efficient accommodation for soldiers training on Salisbury Plain. A 96% self-sustaining facility is currently being built at the Defence Animal Training Regiment (DATR) which trains military working dogs and their handlers.
Work has started on a solar farm at the Defence of School of Transport, Leconfield and a second is being built at the Duke of Gloucester Barracks in South Cerney, Gloucester. Two more are planned at Rock Barracks in Suffolk and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island. All are scheduled for delivery by Summer 2021 and there is an aspiration to deliver a further 80 solar farms across the army estate over the next seven years.
Electric Vehicle Charging Points
The MOD is installing the first tranche of EV charging points at more than 35 defence establishments and is taking delivery of the first tranche of electric vehicles under its White Fleet contact. It is also supporting the government's plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Caring for the Environment
The British Army recognises that care for the environment is essential. Climate change will affect the way we protect, operate and fight – from the warming of our oceans through to the increased requirement for humanitarian and disaster relief. Engagement is non-discretionary; the environmental and political consequences are simply too profound.
World Environment Day is the annual United Nations Day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.
It marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the theme is: ‘Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.’