For decades, town and city planners have recognised the importance of nature and greenery in urban areas. In fact, tree planting in our city streets goes back to the Victorian era. Long before we understood the detailed science of air pollution, we knew that trees played an important role in cleaning our air. Now we know it is particulates and nitrogen oxides emitted by vehicles and industry that affect our health and the environment, but we always knew that trees could help.
It won’t have escaped your attention that in more recent times there have been serious and high profile conflicts between those that love trees, and those that want rid. Trees in urban areas are being neglected and removed in misguided attempts to save money for other essential services – a short term fix which risks damaging our environment for years to come. The benefits that trees provide can be accurately estimated nowadays – and even given a value. You could argue that we shouldn’t have to put a price on them, but it does help prove that trees not only pay for themselves; their benefits outweigh the cost of their maintenance.
We need to protect the trees we have and plan for the future.
With amazing support from Players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we launched the Street Trees Project in 2017 as part of a wider Urban programme (find out more here). Communities have really stepped up to the challenge. Last year we sent out 500 Celebration Starter Kits, and saw events held across the UK. We’ve had some great successes already – but in 2018 it’s going to get even better:
What’s next for 2018?
We’re working on the next phase, to show what can be achieved when communities and decision makers work in harmony, culminating in an awards ceremony in November. It’s great to see there’s demand for the project right across the UK, with many local authorities keen for our help to promote their trees. We’ll recognise good practice where we find it, push for change where it’s needed, and empower communities to put a stop to bad decisions. Our vision is a healthy and sustainable urban forest, but we can’t achieve it alone. If you live on a street with trees, why not get involved?
The next round of Street Tree Celebration kits will be up for grabs in April. Applicants can visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/streettrees to find out more and register their interest.
Trees bring our cities Life, Colour and Beauty – Keep them safe!