'We are increasing our tree planting in Camden'

Hampstead Heath. Picture: Ken Mears

A woodland walk on Hampstead Heath - Credit: Ken Mears

Some good news amid the Covid gloom: this month, Camden Council adopted its first-ever Tree Planting Strategy.

In 2019, our Citizens’ Assembly called on the council to plant more trees, and we have been making good progress on this. For two years running, Camden has been recognised as one of only 120 Tree Cities of the World. And independent analysis recognises us as having one of the 20 highest canopy covers in the country. In fact, cities can often do better than the countryside, where trees were felled to make way for farmland.

We actively manage our urban forest of 28,000 trees, while a further 10-15,000 trees stand in woodland sites. Camden plays host to no fewer than 258 different species. Our canopy cover is 22.9%, which we know has increased since 2015 - the average in England’s towns and cities is 16.4%.

Cllr Adam Harrison was surprised at the unity between between the government, Mayor of London and m

Cllr Adam Harrison is planting trees - Credit: Archant

Our new strategy aims to increase this by a further 3.7%. How will we do this? We have raised our annual planting goal from 400 to 600 a year, and we will seek out new opportunities by "greening as we go". For example, when we install new secure cycle "hangars" for people to store their bikes and make cycling their main way to get around, we now always look to plant new trees alongside.

We also want to encourage residents to plant in their own back gardens. The community-led Camden Forest aim to plant 2,025 trees by the year 2025 or sooner – take a look at camdenforest2025.wordpress.com.

Camden’s Strategy will ensure we monitor 100% of the trees planted by the council. Each new tree will receive three years’ aftercare – but we welcome residents ‘adopting’ street trees (and planting the pits too – check out camden.gov.uk/trees for tips).

The UK is already 1.23 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. Without everybody taking action, including locally, the climate emergency will prove devastating. Trees are essential to making urban areas liveable: by lowering summer temperatures, providing food and homes for wildlife and improving air quality. Greening our cities is one of the major challenges of our time – Camden’s new strategy is an important contribution to making that happen.

Cllr Adam Harrison is cabinet member for a Sustainable Camden