In October 2014 the LTOA were invited to give evidence to the London Assembly Environment Committee in relation to a report about extreme weather events. We used the opportunity to highlight the fact that trees play a hugely important role in preparing London to cope with extreme weather events such as drought or flooding, and to make the point that whilst we are of course in favour of increased tree planting wherever possible, planting alone will not meet the targets to increase canopy cover so long as established trees are being removed. Essentially the message we tried to convey was that tree retention can be just as important as tree planting, even if it is not always so well reported.
The report has now been published, click here to view, and we are pleased to say that our comments have been included. On page 22 of Come rain or shine. London’s adaptation to the risks of severe weather (March 2015) it says:
“Trees have an important role to play. The Mayor has a target to increase London’s tree cover from a baseline of 20 per cent to 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2050; by 2025, he wishes for 2 million extra trees. The Mayor has several tree-planting programmes with targets of 10,000 to 20,000 trees each, which have so far led to the planting of more than 100,000 trees. Since this represents a relatively small proportion of the planned London-wide increase, progress will therefore have to be achieved mainly through other means.
New planting is only part of the solution. New trees take a long time to reach maturity and deliver their full benefits. Also in urban areas trees are often subject to removal or reduction for many reasons. A significant determinant of green infrastructure benefits in the short to medium term is the protection and well-being of existing trees and green spaces.”
The report also specifically sets out ten recommendations for the Mayor. Recommendation 6 is:
“The Mayor should demonstrate, with quantified contributions from different actions as in the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy, how and where his green infrastructure goals (including for tree cover and river restoration) will be met. Among the contributing actions will need to be better protection and enhancement of existing green infrastructure. The Mayor, with local government, should agree and implement appropriate measures to secure this.”
The LTOA are specifically referenced as the origin of the comment on page 22, demonstrating that our attendance at Committee had real influence. We hope that this document will be of use to our Membership as a further tool to be used in situations where trees are threatened, and we hope that the next Mayor of London will take on board Recommendation 6.
Richard Edwards, Chair of the LTOA, said "our reps rightly and successfully highlighted the need to manage and protect the Urban Forest we already have as well as planting for the future".