A MAJOR plan that guides the management of Leicester’s ‘urban forest’ has been formally reviewed – two and a half years after it was first launched.
The city council’s tree strategy was published in November 2018, setting out the council’s commitment to maintaining and replenishing its tree stock and improving the quality of the trees in its care.
It also reaffirmed the council’s policy of planting more than one tree to replace any tree that is lost – and recognised the important role that trees play in reducing air pollution, supporting wildlife and mitigating the impact of floods.
Now, the council’s trees & woodlands team have revisited the strategy to review the progress that’s been made.
The review document reports that 9,519 new trees have been planted since April 2019, including 23 along the city section of the new Memorial Walk at Watermead Park, 600 in a Tiny Forest at Queensmead Primary Academy, around 2,500 at Castle Hill Country Park, and nearly 5,000 at Aylestone Meadows and Knighton Park.
It also notes that 1,054 trees have been felled in the same period, with all of them recycled and repurposed as milled timber, logs, woodchip or biofuel.
Since the strategy was published, nature has not always been kind to Leicester’s tree stock, with 14 significant storms causing loss and damage, and with three deadly pathogens – ash dieback, phytophthora and red band needle blight – affecting a number of the city's trees.
As climate change is expected to increase the prevalence of storms and virulent disease, the strategy sets out how the council’s 34-strong trees & woodland team will strive to respond to these challenges through ongoing monitoring and effective intervention.
Other progress noted in the review document is the adoption of a tree preservation strategy to protect ancient giant redwoods on a Leicester street, the engagement of 15 voluntary tree wardens, and the formation of a Climate Woods group to explore opportunities for mass tree planting.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We drew up this strategy back in 2018 to guide the way we manage and replenish Leicester’s significant tree stock.
“This formal review gives us an opportunity to look back on what we’ve achieved and renew our commitment to increasing the number of trees in the city council’s ownership, while ensuring that the quality of our tree stock continues to be improved.”
Deputy city mayor for the environment Cllr Adam Clarke said: “Trees are hugely valuable to our city, bringing environmental and ecological benefits and vastly improving the look of our streets, parks and open spaces – while supporting our well-being.
“We’re very fortunate in Leicester to have an exceptional trees and woodlands team, who do a brilliant job, managing and maintaining the trees in our parks and on our streets.
“Our tree strategy will continue to guide the management of the city’s trees and woodlands – and help ensure that the city’s urban forest is maintained and expanded for future generations to enjoy.”
Leicester City Council spends around £1.5 million every year on managing the city’s trees and woodlands.
Tree canopy covers around 1,200 hectares in Leicester, with the city council owning around 153,000 individual trees. This includes trees in parks and open spaces, on highway verges, on housing estates, within the grounds of schools, and around community facilities. In addition, the council owns 109 hectares of woodland.
Both the tree strategy and the review document are now available to view online at www.leicester.gov.uk/treestrategy