Tree management strategy - About the borough’s trees

The council is responsible for managing the borough’s publicly owned tree stock which includes a diverse and resilient combination of species, aged between one year and an estimated >1000 years. Trees are located across the borough in a variety of locations types proving a myriad of environmental benefits and niches.

The publicly owned tree stock comprises of 60,412 registered trees, including:

  • 34,446 street trees
  • 25,609 park trees
  • 357 school trees

Additionally, the council manages hundreds of thousands of trees across 552 hectares of publicly owned woodland and conservation sites.

The Benefits of Trees

The many benefits of street trees in an urban environment are well documented in numerous reports and industry journals, and there is a growing recognition of the wider benefits that trees can have for society. However, street trees are under threat. A report by the London Assembly Environment Committee, ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ highlighted the net loss of street trees in London, with more trees being removed than were being replaced or newly planted.

It is therefore becoming increasingly important to ascribe a monetary value in the context of ecosystem services (through methodologies such as CAVAT) to trees to inform their value in policy making budget allocation and infrastructure planning. Having regard to cost benefit ratios for trees can be a good tool for planning and incorporating trees in the urban environment.

Trees represent value for money in the following areas:

1. Environmental Benefits

  • Trees reduce the urban heat island effect by absorbing radiation which would otherwise be stored and emitted by buildings and highways increasing local temperatures.
  • Trees sequester carbon, aiding climate adaptation.
  • Trees capture and absorb particulate and noise pollution adjacent to busy roads.
  • Trees provide shade from the sun and create cooler places for people to enjoy during periods of higher temperatures.
  •  Trees intercept rainwater, helping to prevent localised flooding.
  • Trees are essential for biodiversity, supporting wildlife.

2. Economic Benefits

  • Trees can contribute to the attractiveness of an area an increase the value of properties.
  • A green environment makes for a more productive working environment.
  • Trees help to create welcoming town centres which can extend visit duration.
  • Trees help regulate local temperature extremes, reducing the cost of human intervention.
  • Trees are a good indicator of the strength of an urban ecosystem.

3. Health and Wellbeing Benefits

  • Trees support improved air quality as they remove pollutants, helping to reduce associated health risks.
  • Trees have direct links to improved mental health and our sense of wellbeing.
  • Trees provide shade, reducing the impact of direct sunlight on our health.
  • Trees support inviting environments for exercise.
  • By keeping areas cool (through reduced urban heat island effect), trees can support a decrease in heat associated health problems.

4. Social Benefits

  • Trees support good placemaking and community.
  • Trees are an educational resource.
  • Trees provide seasonal interest.
  • Trees are a cultural and historic link to many areas in the borough.