23 April 2020
Vital tree-planting targets, which are needed if Surrey County Council is to achieve its aim to plant 1.2 million trees by 2030, are missing from the Surrey Tree Strategy. The Strategy is due to be signed off at the Surrey County Council cabinet meeting next Tuesday (April 28), which is being held remotely.
The Strategy also lacks a budget which would be needed to achieve the overall target.
County Councillor Jonathan Essex said, “The Strategy needs to set out what Surrey County Council will do itself. The Tree Strategy needs to include timed and deliverable targets, and commit to what the Council intends to spend”.
Concerns were raised in the public consultation on the Strategy concerning the need to secure greater protection for existing trees at the national level and for Surrey County Council to maximise the potential for the use of highways land for tree planting and increase woodland cover on the countryside it owns and manages.
“The Tree Strategy going to cabinet appears to have changed little from the draft that went out to public consultation”, said Cllr Essex. “Surrey County Council says it’s leading by example on trees. But nowhere in the Strategy does it demonstrate what it will do itself to achieve its target or how it will incentivise community groups, local borough and district councils and landowners to increase tree planting and woodland cover across Surrey.
“This plan should include greater protection of existing trees. And it could be far more ambitious in line with recommendations for what’s needed by Friends of the Earth and others. At the very least the Council needs a detailed implementation plan which is both costed and funded properly."
1. Surrey County Council’s Cabinet is meeting remotely at 2pm on Tuesday April 28th.
2. Jonathan Essex is a Green Councillor on Surrey County Council and Reigate and Banstead Council for Redhill East. He has tabled a number of questions about the Tree Strategy, the Climate Plan and the Coronavirus emergency for the meeting.
3. What land area would be required to meet the 1.2 million tree planting target?
The 1.2 million trees, if planted at standard Forestry Commission woodland planting density would equate to 53 hectares of land.
(Source Cumbria Woodlands).
4. What is the current situation in Surrey?
Surrey’s current woodland cover is around 23% - around 38,000 hectares.
Surrey County Council is responsible for the management of around 2 million highway trees and removed around 9,000 trees between April 2019 and March 2020.
5. Campaigns and pledges for more tree planting
Friends of the Earth are calling for a doubling of tree cover across the UK from 13% to 23%. The average tree cover in Europe is around 38%. To increase Surrey’s tree cover to this level would require an additional 5000 hectares of woodland to be planted in Surrey, around ten times Surrey County Council’s target.