The ability to enhance their neighbourhoods with greenery has now been bestowed upon residents, businesses, and community groups, all thanks to a novel partnership between the council and Trees for Streets.
Leeds City Council has taken the initiative to trial the National Street Tree Sponsorship scheme within the city this year, aiming to unlock urban green spaces and foster increased community engagement in local tree planting and subsequent care.
This development means that residents of Leeds are now in a position to formally request sponsorship for a freshly cultivated, semi-mature street tree. This tree will be located in a grass verge of their choosing within Leeds, and this sponsorship can be secured for a fee of £150. What’s more, nearby residents can collaborate to establish a crowdfunding platform to collectively fund the introduction of new trees.
The collaboration between Trees for Streets and Leeds City Council ensures the effective implementation of tree planting efforts. The charitable organization actively engages with the local community, while the council oversees the planting process of the sponsored trees at the designated locations.
During the summer months, the responsibility of watering the sponsored trees will be undertaken by the residents themselves.
This innovative scheme represents the most recent stride towards Leeds’ ambitious goal of nearly doubling the existing tree count across the district by the year 2050.
Since the inception of the council’s Woodland Creation Scheme, approximately 150 hectares of public land have already been cultivated with woodland, thanks to the assistance of dedicated volunteers. Concurrently, landowners in the district, including farmers, are receiving support through the council’s partnership with the White Rose Forest initiative to facilitate tree planting on private lands.
The augmentation of tree canopy coverage will contribute to making Leeds a more verdant, healthier, and overall improved living environment. This forms a vital component of the council’s response to the pressing climate emergency.
The state of tree coverage in England is notably lower than that of many European countries, which renders it less resilient to the challenges posed by the climate crisis, including escalating temperatures and more frequent and severe weather events, especially in urban areas.
Street trees operate as natural air conditioners, supplying shade during sweltering days and cooling the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. Additionally, they play a pivotal role in managing heavy rainfall and mitigating flooding. Their substantial root systems adeptly absorb substantial amounts of water, while their leaves and branches collect rainwater as it descends.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Climate, Energy, Environment and Green Space, said; “I am always amazed by the incredible benefits that the right trees, planted in the right places, can have and street trees are some of the most beneficial of all.
“From cooling our streets on hot days, helping to prevent flooding, boosting our wellbeing, creating space for nature, improving beauty in an area—or even their ability to remove planet-warming gases from the air—our ambitious tree planting targets are key to making Leeds a greener, healthier, and better place to live.
“Nobody knows our streets better than the residents who live in them, so I am pleased to launch this exciting initiative with the charity Trees for Streets to empower neighbours and individuals to be able to green their own communities if it is right for them.”
Simeon Linstead, Project Director at Trees for Streets, said; “Trees breathe life into our streets. They transform them. By working in partnership with Leeds City Council, our aim is to empower locals to make their neighbourhoods greener and healthier.”
Residents can find out how to help plant and protect trees in Leeds at: www.leeds.gov.uk/trees. Alternatively, residents can also go direct to the ‘Sponsor a Street Tree’ scheme page at: www.treesforstreets.org/leeds.