Residents, businesses, and community groups now have the power to green their neighbourhoods, thanks to a new council partnership with Trees for Streets.
Leeds City Council has chosen to pilot the National Street Tree Sponsorship scheme in the city this year, in a bid to unlock urban greening and get communities more involved in local tree planting and after-care.
It means that Leeds residents can now request to sponsor and look after a brand new semi-mature street tree at a location with a grass verge of their choosing in Leeds for £150.
Neighbours can even choose to set up a crowdfunding page and club together to fund new trees.
Trees for Streets works in partnership with Leeds City Council to get the trees planted. The charity engages with the local community, while the council manages the planting of the sponsored trees at the requested locations.
During summer months, residents will take on the job of watering their sponsored trees.
‘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.’
Project director at Trees for Streets
The new scheme is the latest effort towards Leeds’ ambitious target of practically doubling the number of trees across the district by 2050.
Around 150 hectares of woodland has already been planted on public land with the help of volunteers since the launch of the council’s Woodland Creation Scheme.
Meanwhile, private landowners (including farmers) in the district are also being helped to access support to plant trees through the council’s partnership with the White Rose Forest initiative.
Increasing tree canopy cover will make Leeds a greener, healthier and better place to live and is part of the council’s response to the climate emergency.
Tree cover in England is amongst the lowest in Europe. This impacts resilience to the climate crisis, rising temperatures and increasingly severe weather – particularly in towns and cities.
Street trees act as natural air conditioners, providing shade on hot days and cooling the air through a process called evapotranspiration.
They also help places cope with heavy rain and protect from flooding. Their roots absorb huge volumes of water, and their leaves and branches collect rainwater as it falls.
‘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.’
COUNCILLOR MOHAMMED RAFIQUE
Executive Member for Climate, Energy, Environment and Green Space
A new street tree can be sponsored in three simple steps:
1. Visit treesforstreets.org/Leeds to choose a location for a new tree, answer a few simple questions about it and submit your sponsorship details. The rest is taken care of for you.
2. The council will survey the location to check for suitability.
3. If acceptable, a 3-4 metre ‘instant-impact’ tree will be planted between November and April.