Branching Out: the future for London’s street trees

19 April 2011

Street trees help green urban areas and enhance people’s quality of life, and since we first highlighted the importance of street trees to the capital four years ago, numbers have held up, partly thanks to the Mayor’s Street Trees programme, which is on course to deliver an extra 10,000 trees in priority areas.

However our report warns that the future for street trees looks uncertain because wider budget pressures could result in fewer new trees being planted, there has been limited uptake of a new process designed to avoid unnecessary felling and excessive extreme pruning is still happening. We are also concerned that the Mayor’s Street Trees programme ends next year and its replacement Re:leaf involves smaller community grants and will rely on partners working together to attract funds.

Key recommendations:

The Environment Committee urges the Mayor to encourage boroughs to supply street tree data to a central database which is publicly available so Londoners can hold their local councils and the Mayor to account.

The report also calls on him to publish a detailed plan on funding mechanisms for RE:LEAF, to continue to focus on areas of greatest need and to support boroughs to protect their street trees. Additionally it recommends he encourage new ways of valuing street trees to help tree departments protect maintenance spending.

Since the Environment Committee’s 2007 report, a new way of working – the Joint Mitigation Protocol - has been set up to help avoid unnecessary felling while providing assurance that action has been taken to minimise risk.

In its new report, the committee welcomes this development but notes that it has only been signed up to by eight boroughs and three insurers. It therefore calls for the impact of the Joint Mitigation Protocol to be evaluated and, if proved successful, for it to be rolled out across London.

Read the full report and the evidence received during the investigation: