MD2050 Mayor's Tree Programme 2016/17

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD2050
Date signed: 
22 November 2016
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The Mayor committed in his manifesto to “Embark on a major tree-planting programme across London, in partnership with businesses and the public sector”. The current London Plan and mayoral strategies on Air Quality, Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity also recognise that increasing tree cover across London will provide a range of services and environmental, social and economic benefits for Londoners.   
Enhancing the public realm and greening the capital through further tree planting will improve the usability and the look and feel of the city, contributing towards improving our air quality; improve the city’s resilience to a changing climate, making it a more pleasant place for residents and visitors, and an environment in which businesses can thrive.
The Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy held a summit with potential partner organisations involved in tree planting on 11 November at City Hall as a first step to establishing a tree programme to deliver the Mayor’s manifesto commitment.   The proposed funding for 2016/17 is a precursor to the major tree-programme. It will support a range of tree planting projects including piloting new partnership approaches to delivery. Evaluation from the 2016/17 programme will be used to develop the larger scale tree planting programme for 2017-2020.  
Funding of up to £750,000 has been allocated for the financial period 2016/17 to support tree planting across London.  Grants will be made available to organisations to support tree planting projects that improve the street scene, London’s parks and greenspaces, and promote civic action to improve local neighbourhoods.
 

Decision

That the Mayor approves a major tree-planting programme for 2016/17 and related expenditure of up to £750,000 on activity to support and which corresponds with delivery of the proposed programme.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

The Mayor committed in his manifesto to “Embark on a major tree-planting programme across London, in partnership with businesses and the public sector”. The current London Plan and mayoral strategies on Air Quality, Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity also recognise that increasing tree cover across London will provide a range of services and environmental, social and economic benefits for Londoners. 
It was estimated in 2014 that about 20% of London is covered by trees comprising street trees, garden trees, trees in parks and open spaces, copses and woodlands. There are estimated to be in the region of 8 million trees, of which around 700,000 are street trees.  The existing target to increase canopy cover in London to 25% by 2025 was established in 2009 and adopted in the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, and reflected in the London Plan.
Enhancing the public realm and greening the capital through further tree planting will improve the usability and the look and feel of the city, contributing towards improving our air quality; improve the city’s reliance to a changing climate, making it a more pleasant place for residents and visitors, and an environment in which businesses can thrive. Furthermore, additional tree planting contributes to maintaining and improving London’s image as the world’s greenest big city, driving up the capital’s rank in world surveys of liveable cities thereby attracting inward investment creating jobs and growth.  
The tree programme 2016/17 will make grants available to organisations to support tree planting projects that improve the street scene and London’s parks and greenspaces, and promote civic action to improve local neighbourhoods.

The need for investment
London is fortunate in having an extensive canopy of trees and network of parks and green spaces. However, population growth is increasing the requirement for additional housing and associated infrastructure which is, in turn, putting extra pressure on existing trees and green spaces and the benefits these provide (as a ‘green infrastructure’) in relation to recreation, health and well-being, ecological resilience and climate change adaptation. Furthermore, due to the significant reductions in public funding available to local government, many local authorities are encouraging local communities and civil society to take more responsibility for improving and caring for the environment at the local level. 

Encouraging local communities to plant trees by providing funding to support community action, is a very tangible way of demonstrating the Mayor’s commitment to a collaborative and community-based approach to improving the environment of local neighbourhoods. By making this financial investment the Mayor is providing a strong signal about the importance of this agenda to London. Furthermore, by engaging civil society partners it will also provide local communities access to the skills and expertise they need to deliver projects that are long-lasting and contribute to more strategic objectives. Many of potential civil society partners also already have strong engagement with local and national businesses that can also support tree planting projects. 

The GLA investment in the 2016/17 tree programme would support and complement other tree planting undertaken by the GLA and functional bodies including TfL. There would be no continuing financial obligations. Ongoing maintenance would fall to project partners.

The 2016-17 and longer term aims

The proposed 2016-17 tree programme outlined below is intended as a single year programme to provide funding to support tree planting this winter. It is not designed as a programme which in isolation will fulfil the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to “embark on a major tree planting programme”, but as a precursor programme to demonstrate the Mayor’s commitment to support tree planting in London whilst the new tree programme for 2017-2020 is developed. The aim is that several of the projects funded via the programme will pilot new partnership approaches to delivering tree planting projects. 

The Deputy Mayor for Environment and GLA officers and are in the process of meeting with and consulting boroughs, businesses and environment sector organisations to develop an ambitious tree programme for 2017-2020. New partnerships on tree planting and green infrastructure are being explored. The 2017-2020 tree programme will encompass a wider range of tree related activity than that outlined below for this winter, and will be linked to the new Environment Strategy for London and other relevant strategies and approaches such as Healthy Streets. The aim is to launch the new tree programme in summer 2017 in advance of next year’s tree planting season.   

The Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy convened a meeting of tree sector stakeholders on 11 November 2016 at which many organisations outlined how they could work with the GLA to develop a major tree planting programme. Stakeholders also presented a number of options for tree planting and woodland creation projects which could be undertaken or expanded this winter with funding from the GLA. 
 

Objectives and expected outcomes

Set out below is the proposal for how the 2016/17 investment will be allocated to deliver the outcomes.
The proposal is based on the following assumptions: 

•    A budget of up to £750,000 has been allocated for the period to March 2017. 
•    The commitment to plant trees includes trees in parks, green spaces and streets and larger scale woodland creation.

Objective – Increasing London’s tree cover as a contribution towards the target to increase tree cover by 5% (from 20% to 25%) by 2025 by supporting local communities, businesses and civil society to improve local neighbourhoods through tree-planting and associated activities. 

Approach to Grants
In 2016/17 grants will be made available to support tree planting and woodland creation schemes that will help deliver the Mayor’s target to increase tree cover by 5 per cent by 2025.   

It is proposed that the GLA will issue a call to tree sector partners to submit projects or programmes for funding which are ready to plant this winter. These applications will then be evaluated, before funding agreements are put in place with the successful organisations. Activities will take place from December-March 2017. Grants will be paid in arrears on project completion, by the end of March 2017. Further details of the proposed project timescales are set out in section 7.  

Recipients of funding will be required, as part of supported projects/programmes to:
•    demonstrate that projects or programmes can start on site this winter, and have a project plan in place
•    work with local communities and businesses to plant trees in locations that contribute to enhancing the environmental quality of local neighbourhoods
•    involve children and young people in projects where possible
•    support local communities and businesses in the long-term management and maintenance of the new planting; and
•    support wider environmental aims where appropriate such as improving air quality and reducing surface water flooding (for example by greening routes to school)
•    promote the benefits of increasing London’s tree cover

Outputs
The number and type of projects that the ‘tree programme’ will support in 2016/17 is dependent on the number and quality of applications for funding received. Based on previous programmes, it is anticipated that this level of funding could support an estimated 250 to 500 street trees (dependent on cost per tree); 20,000-40,000 whips through mass tree planting events; and 20 to 40 community tree planting projects (depending on grant amount requested) resulting in around 500 trees planted. 

We would anticipate that all the projects, with the exception of street trees, would engage volunteers with tree planting, including corporate volunteers. Depending on the number and types of projects supported we would expect to see at least 1000 Londoners directly engaged with the tree programme through tree planting or tree care, including children and young people. 

Outcomes
The investment in trees will improve London’s street scene, wider public realm and green spaces, creating cleaner, greener and more pleasant spaces for Londoners and visitors to enjoy. This investment programme aims to:
•    contribute towards increasing the tree canopy cover across London by 5% by 2025;
•    support wider environmental aims including improving air quality, providing shade and urban cooling, and helping the city adapt to a changing climate;
•    engage businesses and communities in tree planting;
•    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 trees are in the right place; 
•    support healthy living by providing a more pleasant living environment;
•    help the city adapt to the impacts of climate change;
•    result in more Londoners understanding and appreciating the benefits of trees and take action locally to protect, manage and plant trees and woodlands.

Determining the success of projects
The investment will be successful if it is able to clearly demonstrate that it has resulted in:
•    trees being planted in new locations and in places where local communities want them by the end of March 2017
•    tree-planting is undertaken with, and by, local communities including local residents, local community groups and local businesses; and
•    funding enables additional trees to be planted in London during 2016-17 and leverages additional resources through sponsorship, in-kind support (e.g. donation of materials of provision of skills and expertise on a pro-bono basis) and volunteering. 

Monitoring and reporting
Existing monitoring and reporting mechanisms will be modified and utilised for this new programme.
In all cases in order to ensure that the programme is delivered according to the GLA standards and requirements, payments will be made upon completion of each project or programme and as set out in the terms and conditions of the grant.  Funding agreements will agree milestones for project delivery with recipients of funding. 
 

Equality comments

Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities are enshrined within the GLA’s programmes and activities according to the Mayor’s Framework for Equal Life Chances (June 2014). The framework aims to bring Londoners together rather than dividing them. It promotes outcomes for a diverse range of communities that seek to bring real changes to the quality of life for all Londoners. Projects stem from the current suite of Environment strategies which was informed by a full Integrated Impact Assessment, which includes a consideration of equalities.

Projects delivered through the Tree Programme 2016/17 will aim to engage as many Londoners as possible to help to meet the needs of people sharing protected characteristics under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.  Delivery partners will aim to deliver projects in deprived wards; engaging people with disabilities; engaging those over 60 and under the ages of 16; engaging with different population groups including those with protected characteristics.
Grant application processes will require a statement about the organisations’ approach to equality and/or the submission of organisations’ equality policies.
Recipients of funding will be required to outline how projects will provide environmental and community benefit. This includes information on the intended beneficiaries (including relevant details such as ages, geographic area of residence, ethnicity). They will be required to advertise their volunteering opportunities via Team London where appropriate. 
 

Other considerations

a)    Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities
    This investment links to a number of Mayoral commitments and strategies including:

•    taking forward the All London Green Grid and the aims expressed in the ALGG     Supplementary Planning Guidance;
•    increasing tree planting in and adjacent to streets helping to reduce exposure to particulates     as identified in the Air Quality Strategy; 
•    increasing green cover helping  to ameliorate the urban heat-island effect and reduce     storm-water run-off – as identified in the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; and
•    encouraging more use of green space encouraging active lifestyles by contributing to     initiatives to combat childhood obesity – as identified in the Health Inequalities Strategy.

The investment links to the Mayor’s London Plan policies on: 

•    Green Infrastructure - The Mayor will pursue the delivery of green infrastructure by working     in partnership with all relevant bodies… to apply the principles of the All London Green     Grid. 
•    Public Realm -  London’s public spaces should be secure, accessible, inclusive, connected,     easy to understand and maintain, relate to local context, and incorporate the highest quality     design, landscaping, planting, street furniture and surfaces.
•    Urban Greening - The Mayor will promote and support urban greening, such as new planting     in the public realm to contribute to the adaptation to, and reduction of, the effects of     climate change.
•    Parks and green space - The Mayor supports the creation of new open space in London to     ensure satisfactory levels of local provision to address areas of deficiency.
•    Trees & Woodlands - Trees and woodlands should be protected, maintained, and enhanced,     following the guidance of the London Tree and Woodland Framework (or any successor     strategy).

b)    Impact assessments and Consultation

No specific consultation or impact assessment has been undertaken. The objectives and outcomes of the project are derived from mayoral strategies which have been subject to extensive consultation and impact assessment.

Key stakeholders are largely the stakeholders and stakeholder groups engaged through previous tree planting initiatives and through the London Trees and Woodlands Partnership. Boroughs and tree sector stakeholders have been consulted about planting this winter at the meeting on 11 November, as well as via individual meetings and regular updates. 

Communications will be undertaken to ensure projects are promoted.

c)    Risk
The GLA will manage the overall operational aspects of the programmes, using its standard corporate approach to project management.

The risks associated with these projects are very similar to those faced by the previous parks and trees programmes funded by the previous administration.

Assumptions have been made about the ability and willingness of borough and third sector partners to submit proposals for projects and programmes that will help deliver the Mayor’s commitments and objectives. The experience of predecessor initiatives, and the ongoing partnership work with partners and stakeholders, including the recent meeting of the Deputy Mayor for Environment with stakeholders on 11 November, suggests that this is a reasonable assumption
 

Risk

Likelihood

Impact

Mitigation

Overspend

Low

High

  • Funding offers will be subject of funding agreements with clear and specific budgets agreed and
  • payments will be made on achievement of milestones

Underspend

Medium

High

  • Discussions with key stakeholders capable of delivering projects already underway

Insufficient projects identified

Low

Medium

  • Ongoing dialogue with partners and monitoring of applications to determine constraints

Lack of physical capacity for trees

Low

Medium

  • Ongoing dialogue with partners to determine constraints and identify suitable sites

Public and partner buy-in

Low

Medium

  • Previous tree planting projects were well received
  • The All London Green Grid  has been consulted upon and endorsed by all major delivery partners

Public understanding of reason for spend

Medium

Low

  • There will be an overarching ‘narrative’ for the programme with messages resonant with Londoners

 

Financial comments

5.1     Approval is being sought to approve the funding of up to £750,000 to support a tree planting programme across London. 

5.2     As this programme of works involves funding agreements, officers are reminded to ensure that they liaise with both the Legal and Finance Teams in the preparation and execution of the agreements. In addition the award and monitoring of the funding and associated payments should be in line with the Authority’s Funding Agreement Toolkit.

5.3    The proposed expenditure will be funded from proposed revenue carry forwards from 2015/16 which are no longer required.

5.4    Any changes to this proposal, including budgetary implications will be subject to further approval via the Authority’s decision-making process.  All appropriate budget adjustments will be made.
 

Planned delivery approach and next steps

The planned approach is to announce the tree programme and issue a call for applications for funding in late November. These applications will be assessed in December, and funding agreements put in place with successful organisations. Project delivery will commence once funding agreements are signed. Tree planting projects will be completed by the end of March 2017, and grant funding claimed. Project monitoring information will then be collated and evaluated.  Evaluation from the 2016/17 programme will be used to inform and develop the larger scale tree planting programme for 2017-2020.  

Activity

Timeline

Announcement

w/c 28 November 2016

Funding Application process 

November-December 2016

Grants Awarded and Delivery Start Date

December 2016-January 2017

Delivery End Date for Tree Planting  

End of March  2017

Final evaluation start and finish (self)

April-May 2017

Project Closure

June 2017