Woodland Trust report urges Councils to invest in tree cover.


Woodland Trust report urges Councils to invest in tree cover.

A report published by the Woodland Trust this month urges councils to invest in their natural environment and their tree cover in particular.

‘Healthy Trees, Healthy Places” notes economic difficulties, resource constraints, severe weather events and social trends and argues that the natural environment can play a key role in reinvigorating localities and benefiting public health, often reducing overall costs. 

The report gives special focus to trees and outlines the following benefits of tree cover:

• Urban tree cover provides economic advantages – a report to the Mersey Forest showed that for every £1 invested in the Forest’s programme, £10.20 was generated in increased Gross Value Added (GVA), social cost savings and other benefits.

• Trees and urban green space improves the environment and encourages healthy 

lifestyles, improving public health.

• Mitigation of the urban heat island effect – trees provide shade from direct solar radiation and reduce ambient air temperature through evaporative cooling.

• Well-designed tree planting can improve air quality. Researchers found asthma rates among children aged four and five fell by a quarter for every additional 343 trees per square kilometre.

• Trees in rural and urban areas can help in reducing the risk of flooding – preliminary results from Manchester University indicate that tree canopies can reduce surface water runoff by as much as 80% compared to asphalt.

• Trees and green spaces can help in improving water quality.

• Woodland can prove a cheaper land use to maintain than amenity grassland.

It  urges councils to take a strategic approach to maintaining and increasing tree cover as part of green infrastructure.

• identify where tree cover can contribute to economic regeneration, improved public health, reduction of flood risk and support for biodiversity. 

• Adopt access standards to ensure everyone has access to green space such that no person should live more than 500m from at least one area of accessible woodland 

At least 2 hectares in size and 4 km of woodland 20 hectares in size. 

• Encourage public participation in the planning and management of trees, woods and other open green space to validate the importance of green space, generate opportunities for community care for nature and give proper regard to local community interests.

Individuals are also encouraged to play their part:

• Taking an active interest in the development of local plans and making their voices heard. 

• Protecting local trees and woodland from development. 

• Planting more trees individually or collectively to increase woodland cover. 

• Ensuring local councillors understand the importance of trees and woodland to the community.

The report can be downloaded here.



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