Cambridge City Council is among the first local authorities in the UK to join Trees for Streets, the new national street tree sponsorship scheme.
Trees for Streets is a project by Trees for Cities, the national urban tree charity, and is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. It aims to support the planting of more than a quarter of a million street trees nationwide over the next ten years by raising public donations to supplement council tree planting budgets.
The scheme uses an online platform. This allows anyone wanting to sponsor a street tree in their neighbourhood to make a request to their local council by providing a few simple details. The council then assesses the chosen location. If it is suitable, arrangements will be made to plant a tree the following winter. This is the best time to plant young trees to ensure they grow and thrive.
Simeon Linstead, Project Director of Trees for Streets, explains:
‘Trees for Streets enables residents to work with their local councils to make a difference to the world immediately on their doorstep, through a combination of technology and local engagement.
We want to inspire and empower communities to take a leading role in greening their streets.
It’s really exciting to have Cambridge on board. They really understand the power of sponsorship to raise additional funding to support the planting of more trees. This is all about communities and councils working together more closely.’
Why are street trees important?
Our urban trees are pretty amazing, and the appetite for easily accessible local green space continues to increase.
Street trees do a lot for us. They:
- capture carbon dioxide and produce oxygen
- improve our health and wellbeing – both physically and mentally
- absorb air pollution
- improve air quality by acting like natural filters
- protect us from flooding
- create shading and cooling – so important in towns and cities
- make the neighbourhoods where we live that bit nicer
Cllr Alex Collis, Executive Councillor for Open Spaces, Sustainable Food and Community Wellbeing, is excited about the potential of this project.
‘This is a really exciting development for Cambridge. This scheme makes it possible for all residents to make a direct contribution to improving their neighbourhood for generations to come. It also complements the ongoing work of the Cambridge Canopy Project. We’re taking a holistic view of the whole city. There are some areas of Cambridge that are leafy and offer lots of green space. But there are still plenty where we want to increase the tree cover. So every tree counts in expanding our urban forest.’
Beyond sponsoring a tree, there are lots of other ways for people to get involved. Once each street tree is planted, it will need watering every week throughout the summer for three years to give it the best chance of survival. And any litter or weeds will need removing too, to make sure it thrives.
By donating their time (and water) to care for street trees, people will be contributing to a legacy for their community. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with neighbours and enjoy the fresh air these trees provide.