5,000 new street trees to be planted in Hackney
Hackney Council is set to plant 5,000 new street trees by 2022, increasing canopy cover by 50 per cent, in the single largest investment in trees in the history of the borough.
In addition, the Council will deliver an additional 1,000 high-quality trees in parks and green spaces, and work with local volunteers and the third sector to deliver many more.
The new commitment significantly expands the Council’s existing promise to plant 1,000 trees by 2022 and will see the same number of street trees planted in the next three years than have been planted since 2000.
The programme will take a science-based approach to tree selection and distribution, going beyond trees purely for aesthetic purposes, to ensure that considerations about carbon dioxide capture, biodiversity, and resilience to man made global warming are at the very forefront of the Council’s investments in green infrastructure.
Through shading and evaporative cooling, trees are increasingly recognised as the number one tool for the delivery of sustainable cooling; mitigating against the impact of both the Urban Heat Island effect and warming due to the emission of greenhouse gases.
By increasing on-street canopy cover from 20% to 30% by 2022, Hackney Council is beginning to build-in resilience to future heat-related hospital admissions and energy demand for air conditioning.
As trees can also play an important role in filtering polluted air and provide mental health and wellbeing benefits, the Council’s forthcoming programme also represents a new focus on trees as public health infrastructure.
The new trees will be a 50/50 mix of native and non-native trees, ensuring that trees are appropriate for their setting and resilient to pests and the changing climate.
Since assuming responsibility for trees and green infrastructure in June, I have been assessing our approach for compliance with the demanding targets of our climate emergency motion, and the potential for trees to cool our streets and enhance wellbeing. While increasing on-street canopy cover in Hackney by 50% through the planting of 5,000 street trees in under three years represents a significant challenge, I believe it is more than matched by the scale of the environmental crisis we face.
In our June 2019 climate emergency motion, we committed to do everything in our power to deliver against the stark challenges laid out by the scientific community. By locking in carbon, trees and other green infrastructure represent an important weapon in the fight against global warming, making an important contribution to the Council’s ambitious targets to reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and deliver net zero emissions by 2040, the higher confidence threshold targets of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Investing close to £4 million in Hackney’s largest ever street and parks tree planting programme, and pledging to work with charitable and voluntary organisations to plant thousands more, is yet another example of the seriousness with which we treat our responsibilities to Hackney’s current and future residents. By formally launching the programme with the planting of a Giant Redwood tree, we are pledging to harness the literally huge potential of trees in our fight against the climate crisis.