To receive an update in respect of progress in the implementation of the Tree Management Protocol & Guidance, recent tree planting, and looks ahead to the next financial year.
Consideration was given to an update in respect of the progress by the Tree Planting Programme, which is enhancing and extending existing woodland as well as increasing the number of urban trees. This reduces the carbon footprint and encourages biodiversity in wooded areas. The report noted the review after 1 year of the Tree Planting Protocol was trying to find a pragmatic way to approach tree planting without encroaching on residents’ quality of life. The Tree Service receives 1000 requests per year.
The tree planting programme is a 2 year program. 22,000 trees were planted in the first year of the programme. The service is currently reviewing the consultation process and ensuring that Members and residents have an opportunity to feed into tree planting plans in future. Details were provided around funding and grants that were availed and used for this programme.
In discussion, Members noted the frequency of questions to Members around trees. Clarification was requested around maintenance assistance offered to schools and community groups. The response from officers and the Cabinet Member noted that any tree that is owned by the Council and is growing on Council land is maintained by the service via a ring-fenced fund for maintenance of trees.
Members requested further information around responsiveness of the team to service requests. The response from officers noted that the small team receives a large number of inquiries and requests. Requests can be picked up through casework as well as at the tree service email inbox.
Members requested more information around whether the service avails the moneys available and cooperative schemes that exist. The response from Members described the funding and schemes that are availed by the service in respect of tree planting.
Members expressed interest in the prioritisation of fruit trees for planting. The tree engagement officer had supervised the planting of a community orchard, and expansion of fruit tree planting was encouraged.
Members reported responsiveness of the team to requests, and indicated areas for expansion of consultation with residents related to tree planting and maintenance. The response from the Cabinet Member illustrated that, based on time pressures associated with changing seasons and working with communities had meant that this year, the service had not been able to do as much consultation as they would have liked. One of the things that working with community groups has allowed is the integral involvement of the school children who will see these trees grow up alongside themselves. The service has further consulted experts and have taken advice around which trees are best to plant now based on the temperatures expected in future. This approach helps keep trees healthy and safe in the long term.
Members requested clarification around timescales for projected work, for example, working with private landlords. The response noted that near the end of the year, the service expected to have completed the first phases of this work. The new supplementary planning document included green spaces, ensuring that developers know the requirements to plan trees within their new developments. Larger developments have specific schemes, down to the circumference and types of trees required. The changes over 10 or 15 years occur when saplings have successfully grown into mature trees.
Members expressed interest in learning more about how planning for the tree programme going forward will take into account inequalities. The Cabinet Member and officers noted the suggestion to expand urban tree planting in the areas of greatest deprivation wherever possible. Officers noted that there is a section in the Tree Management Protocol that illustrates various things that residents can do themselves with a toolkit coming on board in the next year. Further note was made of the intersections between the tree programme and objectives associated with Children’s Capital of Culture.
1. That the report be noted.
2. That the value of Member and resident consultation and feedback be reflected in the review and next iteration of the Tree Management Strategy.
3. That the maintenance schedule of the Tree Service be further publicised.
4. That equalities be considered in the prioritisation of tree planting in deprived areas of the borough.
5. That opportunities for planting fruit trees be prioritised for expansion.