Plans have been revealed which could see Leicestershire County Council joining with the National Forest to sign up to a Tree Charter, reaffirming its commitment to making the county cleaner and greener.
The authority currently manages around 321,000 trees, but its strategy and action plan, adopted in May 2020, will see that number dramatically increase over the next ten years, as it carries out its pledge to help plant 700,000 more trees – one for every resident.
The Tree Charter sets out its ambitions to continue nurturing trees and woodlands in the county and thus improve the environment; people’s health and wellbeing and also to provide more ‘green’ jobs.
We want to protect and enhance Leicestershire’s trees and woodlands so that they will continue to benefit future generations and our Tree Charter would set out the ways we would do that.
Through the signing of this charter, we will be committing to work in partnership with the National Forest Company to share learning and expertise, to develop new and innovative approaches and to ensure effective use of resources and funds.
By planting more trees, in both urban and rural environments, and managing existing woodland carefully, we can help towards our ultimate aim of being a net zero county by 2045.Person:Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for the environment
Trees and woodlands enhance everyone’s quality of life: they support wildlife, help combat climate change and add beauty to towns, villages and countryside. The need for increased tree cover, both globally and locally, is well documented as a major action to mitigate climate change.
The county council would engage with local communities, landowners, charities and both the public and private sectors to develop joint approaches to deliver the Tree Charter ambitions.
It would collate the evidence needed to demonstrate the importance of Leicestershire’s trees and woodlands in helping to slow down climate change, reverse biodiversity loss, provide essential eco-system services and improve the long-term resilience of the environment.
It will target tree planting in locations that will help to reduce flood risk, improve air and water quality and encourage biodiversity. Trees will also be planted close to where people live and work to improve accessibility and wellbeing benefits and also encourage outdoor and woodland learning for children.
The proposed tree charter is to be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Friday (November 19). A webcast of the meeting can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2NKDhFz
- Leicestershire is around 6% woodland; below the national average of 10%, although the creation of the National Forest over the last 20 years, has meant that forest cover in the north west corner of Leicestershire has now increased to 22%.
- Dutch Elm disease accounted for a reduction of more than half of all trees in the county between 1980 and 1998. The challenges presented by new diseases such as Ash Dieback will result in the further decline of native trees.
- Leicestershire County Council declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019. In December 2020 the council pledged a target to become a carbon neutral council by 2030 and to achieve ‘net zero’ across the county by 2045.