Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has produced a new tree policy setting out how it will manage its trees across the Borough, which will be considered by the council’s cabinet next week.
Whilst the new policy covers many aspects of how the Council will look after its trees, the central theme is the target to increase the Boroughs’ tree canopy cover from 12% to 15%. This would see it increase by over 1km2, a rise of 20% from the current 5.17km2, and the equivalent of an additional 150 football pitches of tree canopy cover.
The tree policy will also help the Borough to maintain a healthy tree population and achieve the target of 15%, which is recommended in a report about tree cover by Forestry Research, part of the Forestry Commission , and in an independent tree canopy assessment of Southend-on-Sea.
The Cabinet report (agenda item 18) also proposes a review of Borough land holdings to assist in the development of the planting strategy by identifying suitable and available sites for potential tree planting. This will be coupled with a community engagement programme to encourage residents, businesses, schools and other groups and charities to consider tree planting on their land to help increase the canopy cover.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: “We have seven Green Flag parks and open spaces, but we are a highly urbanised area, and raising our tree canopy level will need the council and community to work together to meet and hopefully exceed the 15% target.
“We have already worked hard on improving canopy cover in the last and this planting season, and 700 standard trees will be planted this year as a significant addition to our normal planting programme, as well as 5000 shrubs, demonstrating the council's and my commitment to the importance of the green environment. Further investment will also be needed to drive this forward in future years.
“We all know how important trees and other plants are to our own lives by providing cleaner air and a more pleasant environment, but their benefits for fauna and wildlife habitats are also crucial.
“Trees and planting are something we can all get involved in and we want people to think about how they can plant trees in their own gardens and for businesses to consider planting on their own land, so that together we create a tree canopy that increases and helps us become a Green City and work towards a carbon-neutral Southend by 2030.
“This updated strategy is something I promised we would deliver, and in this time of extreme circumstances, we need to be able to look forward to a better and greener future in Southend.”