Ten local authorities in England have joined together to create a toolkit to aid in building resilient treescapes across the country. The Trees and Woodland Strategy Toolkit is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) England Trees Action Plan. Defra, the local authorities, the Tree Council, the Forestry Commission, and Fera Science and Forest Research all worked on the project.
The goal is to help local authorities plan how they can meet net-zero targets by increasing tree planting across the country, reversing the decline in biodiversity, and supporting economic growth. The toolkit will help local councils set out their vision to expand and protect their local treescapes and offers practical solutions on how to achieve that goal. It aims to help accelerate tree planting to meet net zero targets by the year 2050 and increase access to nature within local communities. Importantly, it addresses the need for a joint effort that spans both public and private land.
The toolkit also highlights how local authorities can benefit from the current levels of government funding for tree planting and provides practical guidance on how to develop a strategy. It is intended to help local authorities:
- make the case for trees as a key asset to achieve economic, environmental and social objectives;
- provide a framework for a healthy treescape;
- unlock opportunities for new funding streams;
- encourage partnership working with local stakeholders;
- improve community health and wellbeing;
- engage with the public;
- mitigate public health risks through strategic tree management; and
- create a structure for embedding trees into planning policy and highway management.
“Local authorities have a unique and critical leadership role to play for the nation’s trees,” said Sara Lom, CEO of the Tree Council. “With prolonged, record-breaking heatwaves and continuing drought, the effects of a changing climate have been starkly felt across Britain this year. Trees play a key role in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss by capturing and locking up carbon and providing homes and connectivity in the landscape for thousands of species. Trees can also lower the land surface temperature in a city by up to 12oC. At Cop27, countries around the world announced some highly ambitious planting targets and we must meet our own demanding targets too. We can only do this through local action on the ground.”