Commitment sought from politicians for new strategy for urban trees
Environmental charity Trees for Cities have called for a new National Strategy for Urban Trees which aims to increase tree canopy cover by at least 10% in the next 40 years.
Studies have shown that trees have considerable benefits to city life for example a large beech tree can provide enough oxygen for the daily requirements of ten people. Trees also have a positive impact on the incidence of asthma, skin cancer and stress-related illness by filtering out polluted air, reducing smog formation, shading out solar radiation and by providing an attractive, calming setting for recreation. And trees play a vital role in the urban ecosystem, by helping to support a great variety of wildlife, reduce noise by acting as a sound barrier and are believed to significantly reduce the stress of urban living.
In the run up to the general election, Trees for Cities are calling on all the political parties to commit to the following:
- Implement a new National Strategy for Urban Trees which aims to increase tree canopy cover in urban areas by at least 10% by 2050 and which prioritises the planting of new trees in deprived areas;
- Provide statutory guidance to all Local Authorities with an urban remit to implement a robust Tree Strategy, which includes the 10% target, prioritises the planting of new trees in deprived areas and works with those communities to ensure they are the right trees in the right places;
- Give every urban child the right to a childhood enriched by trees enabling them to grow in confidence and self esteem and create memories for their future through planning guidance that makes provision for natural play space within walking distance from their home;
- Give every urban child the right to play under the canopy of a tree, protected from the dangers of excessive heat and sunshine through statutory guidance that all school playgrounds and playgroup outdoor play areas are covered by tree canopies;
- Sponsor every urban household to reduce energy bills by up to 20% by planting a tree in the space outside their house either in the street, communal open space or their own garden as part of an energy use reduction campaign;
- Give every urban dweller the opportunity to help adapt their local area to climate change through volunteer tree planting programmes as part of local climate change adaptation strategies;
- Embed the socio-economic value of trees and tree planting across all social strategies, including health, crime, social cohesion, regeneration and education, backed up by cost-benefit analysis similar to that already being pioneered in the US and Australia;
- Make street tree planting part of statutory guidance provided to Local Authorities to create healthier streets recognising the unique ability of trees to combat many of the health concerns faced by users of busy, exposed, polluted urban streets.
April 26, 2010