One Million Trees stakeholder workshop, Birmingham, 26th September 2017
On a bright, crisp September day, participants from more than a dozen Tree Council member organisations convened alongside Forestry Commission staff, Urban FWAC members and Defra officers to reflect on the implications of the Conservative 2017 manifesto commitment to ‘ensure one million trees are planted in England’s towns and cities by 2022’. The aim of the three hour session was to generate innovative and ambitious ideas that could make a contribution towards future delivery options.
Many of The Tree Council’s member organisations will recall a similar commitment made in the Coalition Programme for Government of 2010. That precipitated the convening of a Tree Council members’ Forum at which representatives from the spectrum of organisations concerned for the planting, care and conservation of trees, put together the framework based on commonly agreed principles that would provide the template for much of the campaign. Even the name by which it became known, the Big Tree Plant, was selected from options generated by member inventiveness on that day.
This time around, Defra initiated the debate, hosting an invitation-only workshop session to identify a range of ‘viable, costed delivery options’ that were ‘innovative and ambitious’ and could be worked up into a proposed plan for delivery. Specifically, participants were asked for input on what planting programmes have worked well previously; how useful targeting, selection and competition based around canopy cover might prove; what funding might be necessary to cover plant material, planting, management and maintenance costs for the first three years and where it might derive from; what organisations should be involved in the delivery plan (local v national was also part of the debate) and how Local Authorities could be engaged. The parameters for the scope includes using trees that are UK sourced and grown, reducing biosecurity risks with a preference for ‘species which reduce pollen [and] air pollution’. Standard trees are aspired to, wherever affordable and appropriate, though it was recognised that these may need to be ‘mixed with smaller more affordable trees’, a factor that was acknowledged to limit the planting sites. There is an aspiration for trees to be planted alongside both suburban and inner-city highways; sites on public sector land holdings and estates will also be sought. On the ‘out of scope’ list are planting in parks and schools; imported trees; and revisiting locations such as major cities where lots of planting activity is already taking place.
The resultant ideas were gathered on flip chart sheets and post-it notes and can be seen by clicking the document link below.
Given that many factors outlined in the submission arising from the Tree Council members’ Forum in 2010 were still pertinent, we subsequently revisited that document, deleted irrelevant material and resubmitted it to Defra for consideration once more. That submission can also be seen by clicking the link below.
Ministers are now considering potential delivery approaches that will be informed by the stakeholders’ views that were gathered at the workshop and other feedback. Once a response is received, Defra, along with Forestry Commission and Urban FWAC, will talk again with stakeholders about how best to progress this work. The Tree Council will update all members on further developments.
All documents available here:
- Tree Council Forum Findings
- Million Trees Workshop Material