DD1457 London Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Code: 
DD1457
Date signed: 
08 February 2016
Decision by: 
Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

This decision requests approval to spend £40,000 of funding from within the existing parks and trees capital budget to support the delivery of the London Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme (“the Scheme”) for 2015-16. 

This increases the grant pot for the scheme from £100,000 (previously agreed via MD1429) to a total of £140,000.  The Scheme will deliver 24 community based tree and woodland projects by March 2016. These projects will include tree planting and woodland management projects, contributing to meeting the Mayor’s target of increasing tree canopy cover by 5 per cent by 2025.

This £40,000 expenditure is within the overall capital budget for parks and trees which was authorised by MD294 and MD1056. The allocation of additional funds to the Scheme for 2015-16 is in response to high quality applications to the Scheme; the projects funded by the Scheme will all complete by March 2016. 

 

Decision

The Executive Director approves expenditure of up to £40,000 from the parks and trees capital budget to provide grant funding through the London Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme 2015-16.

 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The London Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme (“the Scheme”) supports projects that promote or protect trees and woodlands and engage local communities, by providing grants of between £2,000 and £10,000.  The grants in 2015-16 will be the fourth round of the current scheme which has run annually since 2012-13. 

1.2    MD1429 approved capital expenditure of £100,000 as grant funding for the Scheme in 2015-16. Subsequently ADD329 approved revenue expenditure of £13,700 to Groundwork London to administer the Scheme on behalf of the GLA. 

1.3    MD294 and MD1056 authorised a £6million budget for parks and trees. A small amount remains unallocated in the capital budget in that parks and trees programme, due to savings and efficiencies made in previous years of the programme and due to some projects claiming less than funds than anticipated. 

1.4    Applications to the grant scheme were assessed in October 2015. Many high quality applications were received and the grant panel recommended supporting 24 projects with a total expenditure of £140,000. This decision proposes allocating an additional £40,000 of capital funding available in the parks and trees capital budget, in addition to the £100,000 already agreed via MD1429, to fund projects through the Scheme.  

1.5    The Scheme will support 24 community based tree and woodland projects by March 2016. These projects will include tree planting and woodland management projects, contributing to meeting the Mayor’s target of increasing tree canopy cover by 5 per cent by 2025. The 24 projects approved by the grant panel will result in the planting of over 4,000 trees and engage over 3,000 volunteers. The projects are spread across London. 

Background

1.6    The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy includes an objective to increase tree canopy cover from 20% to 25% by 2025 (and a further 5% by 2050). This target is reflected in Policy 7.21of the London Plan. The primary rationale for this increase relates to the potential for an increase in canopy cover to help off-set the predicted impacts of climate change; but it also recognises a number of other potential benefits including: enhancing biodiversity; improving air quality; enhancing local amenity and maintaining London’s reputation as one of the greenest big cities. 

1.7    The GLA does not own or manage land on which it can plant trees to help meet the Mayor’s targets. Consequently, the GLA relies on a mix of policy development; supporting partnerships and grant-funding projects to support others to undertake tree-planting. This work to increase London’s canopy cover sits within a broader context of the Environment Team’s work on improving London’s green infrastructure; several other projects also contribute to tree planting and engaging Londoners, such as the Big Green Fund. 

1.8    One way in which the Mayor contributes to meeting this target is through providing resources for tree-planting projects. The Mayor’s Street Tree Initiative and the London Tree and Woodland Grant scheme ran alongside each other from 2012-15. The Street Tree Initiative ended in March 2015 as the Mayor’s target to plant 20,000 street trees during his two terms of office had been achieved. However it has been agreed to continue the community element of the Scheme for an additional year. 

 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The Scheme supports community groups and others to undertake tree-planting projects or projects which improve management of woodlands or public access to woodlands. The 24 projects approved by the grant panel will result in the planting of over 4,000 trees and engage over 3,000 volunteers. The projects are spread across London. 

2.2    The Scheme aims to:
•    Contribute towards increasing the tree canopy cover within London's built environment by five 
    per cent by 2025
•    Engage communities in the management of green space, tree and woodland management 
•    Ensure trees and woodlands contribute to a high quality environment 
•    Help foster community and individual well-being and social inclusion through contact with trees 
    and woodlands 
•    Make sure the right tree is in the right place 

Outcomes

2.3    The Scheme projects to result in tree planting, improved woodland management and community engagement in trees and woodlands. (Measurables: number of trees planted; area of land improved; number of volunteers participating). 

2.4    As part of a range of GLA led initiatives around trees, parks and green spaces the Scheme contributes to increasing canopy cover in London, with the following outcomes:
•    interventions that demonstrably contribute to the likelihood of increases in canopy cover in the 
    longer term;
•    a 5% increase in London’s tree-canopy cover by 2025 (from a 2008 baseline of 20%)
•    more Londoners understanding and appreciating the benefits of trees and an increase in canopy 
    cover and willing to take action locally to protect, manage and plant trees and woodlands.

 

Equality comments

3.1    Applicants to the Scheme are required to outline how their projects will provide environmental and community benefit. This includes information on the intended beneficiaries of the Scheme projects (including relevant details such as ages, geographic area of residence, ethnicity). 

3.2    Projects funded via the Scheme are requested to advertise their volunteering opportunities via Team London where appropriate. 

3.3    Projects funded via the Scheme in 2015-16 include ones which will support a wide range of Londoners to engage with trees and woodlands including: young people; patients with mental ill health; residents of housing estates. Several projects also include elements of training, helping Londoners to gain skills. 

 

Other considerations

4.1    a) High level risks

A key risk is that the projects funded via the Scheme are not complete by the end of March 2016. This is mitigated in a number of ways including having grant agreements in place with each grant recipient requiring the project to be complete by the end of February 2016, which provides some leeway for unanticipated delays to projects, and working closely with Groundwork London (the Scheme administrators) to regularly monitor the progress of projects. 

b) Links to Mayoral Strategies 

4.2     The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy includes an objective to increase tree canopy cover from 20% to 25% by 2025 (and a further 5% by 2050). This target is reflected in Policy 7.21of the London Plan. The primary rationale for this increase relates to the potential for an increase in canopy cover to help off-set the predicted impacts of climate change; but it also recognises a number of other potential benefits including: enhancing biodiversity; improving air quality; enhancing local amenity and maintaining London’s reputation as one of the greenest big cities. 

 

Financial comments

5.1    Director’s approval is sought to spend an additional £40,000 to provide grant funding through the London Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme 2015-16. This will bring the total spend on this project to £140,000 (£100,000 was approved under MD1429). This expenditure will be funded from the Environment team’s 2015-16 capital budget for Parks and Trees (London Great Outdoors). All expenditure will occur within financial year 2015-16.

 

 

Planned delivery approach and next steps

7.1       The work proposed above will be completed by March 2016.

7.2       A delivery plan has be agreed with Groundwork London, covering the publicity, application, assessment, monitoring and reporting, claim and evaluation stages of the project.  

7.3       Grant funding will be claimed by participating community groups and charities at the end of the project upon the completion of projects in the Scheme and the provision of all required monitoring information and proof of expenditure.

Activity

Timeline

Delivery Start Date (of CGS projects)

November 2015

Final evaluation start and finish (external)

March 2016

Delivery End Date

February 2016

Project Closure

March 2016