Could Leeds be crowned the UK’s first ‘tree friendly city’?

PIC: Daniel Romani
PIC: Daniel Romani
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Leeds could be crowned the UK’s first “tree friendly” as a charity urges the city’s residents to stand up and celebrate their precious street trees.

The Woodland Trust, the nation’s largest woodland conservation charity, is reaching out to hundreds of people – and community groups – in the city as well as Glasgow and Wrexham.

People are urged to join forces with their neighbours and apply for one of 500 Street Trees Celebration Starter Kits and they’ll get bunting, badges and funky wheelie-bin transfers to show their appreciation for their trees.

The news comes in light of a report which showed councils are felling around 58 trees a day and 150,000 trees have been removed from highways since 2010 and not replaced, costing Councils £16 million.

In Sheffield, for example, residents have been up in arms after more than 4,000 trees have been felled.

Joseph Coles, the Woodland Trust’s Project Lead for Street Trees said the scheme, which is funded by a £500,000 boost from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to rally people to look after threatened trees on their doorstep.

He said: “Street trees face unprecedented threats. Be it climate change, tree disease, development or council budgets. However, they bring a huge array of benefits to people and with 80 per cent of the UK’s people living in urban settlements, street trees are their main daily contact with nature. If we are to keep people connected with nature we need to preserve it on their doorsteps.

“Through the Street Trees project, thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, we will connect people with the trees closest to them, offering them the tools and resources to both celebrate and protect them, while raising awareness at the highest levels that street trees are valuable and worth investing in and preserving.

“We need to encourage people to celebrate trees, whatever their drive might be – social cohesion, economic benefits, sentimental or simply because a tree looks nice.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Street trees provide so many benefits to the communities where they are found. We’re delighted our players are able to support the Street Trees project, encouraging communities to celebrate and protect the trees on their doorsteps”

In the UK, 80 per cent of people live in urban areas so protecting the trees within these areas is very important. They provide that little bit of green space, oxygen in an urban world and many trees may have stood for tens if not hundreds of years.

Glasgow, Leeds and Wrexham were chosen for the pilot due to their desire to do more but are under pressure (as are all councils) from funding cuts. In the future the Woodland Trust says the scheme may lead to it crowning the UK’s first ever “Tree friendly city”.

Groups of people (around five to ten) may apply for the packs here: Woodlandtrust/streettrees