Monday 30th November, 2009

Street trees make London greener

Street trees to make London greener. Image Courtesy: Anna Pitton

The Mayor of London announced on Friday 28 May that the City Hall’s street tree funding grants (London street trees) has opened for boroughs and local communities to apply by 14 July.

Since launching in 2008, the scheme has already managed to plant 5,000 trees in the streets of London, but 40 areas are still considered in need. The Mayor of London plans to reach the target of 10,000 planted trees by 2012 - 3,500 of which are to be planted within a year.

The Forestry Commission and the environmental organisation Groundwork London have welcomed the initiative with pleasure.

Groundwork London’s executive director Lindy Kelly said: “Planting trees in our city’s streets improves the urban landscape and the quality of life for people living and working in London.”  

Advantages of Street Trees

According to a report by Trees for City, an independent charity working with local communities on landscaping projects, planting trees in the city has several positive effects.

Firstly, twigs slow down rainfall helping to reduce localised flooding. Planting trees in the cities might also have cost-cutting effects. 

Shelter and shade from trees, in fact, can save up to 10 percent of energy needed to heat and cool buildings, levelling out costs of gardening maintenance.

On the other hand, average house value is between 5 and 18 percent higher where the property is near mature trees. 

Is it enough?

The Mayor of London said that Britain’s capital is greener compared to other cities around the world, but nearly one in five Londoners still lives more than one kilometre away from a green area. 

In an article on The London Evening Standard, art critic Brian Sewell has recently lamented the lack of trees in London. The Great Trees of London, a book due to be published by TimeOut on 3 June, offers a photographic portrait of unusual species, exceptionally tall or ancient trees within the capital.

“On a map reaching from Enfield to Carshalton and Hounslow to Dagenham there are only 56 trees exceptional for their height, girth, reach, age or rarity,” said Sewell. “In what most of us think of as central London, there are only 10.”

Pamela Warhurst, Forestry Commission chairman concluded: “Tree planting in cities has never been more needed.”

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