We should plant 350,000 trees in Shropshire by 2050, one for every person in the county (updated)

Update 19 September 2019

The motion was passed by Shropshire Council with only one councillor voting against.

Original article

Shropshire is a green county but it has lost a lot of hedgerows and a lot of trees in recent decades. There has been some replanting but Ludlow conservation areas alone have lost close to 200 trees in the last five years. We are due to lose around 100 trees on Foldgate Lane alone. Trees will be replanted in compensation but it will be decades before they mature and replace existing tree cover. At a time when a majority of public authorities have declared a climate emergency, including Shropshire Council and Ludlow Town Council, we must accelerate our efforts to plant trees and protect biodiversity.

Tomorrow, Thursday, Shropshire Council will discuss a motion written by myself and signed by Lib Dem councillors to plant 345,000 trees across the unitary council area by 2050. That will be one tree for every resident. I am also proposing a tree bank scheme to will encourage landowners and householders to pay for two new trees to be planted elsewhere for every tree felled.  

Trees felled at Linney House in 2015

The council motion

Shropshire Council declared a Climate Emergency at its May 2019 meeting. This council supports the work in progress by the council and its partners to reduce its carbon emissions, including the creation of a task and finish group to map the route forward to zero carbon. The formation of a working group does not rule out Council establishing initiatives where there is a clear need to so do in the context of the declared climate emergency.

The role that trees can play in mitigating the increase in atmospheric CO2 and promoting biodiversity is well understood. But this council has not set out a specific ambition for increasing tree cover in the county. This motion declares such an ambition and provides an innovative mechanism for helping achieve it. The mechanism, the Shropshire Tree Bank, recognises that sometimes householders, housing providers, landowners and developers cannot replace felled trees on site but would welcome the opportunity for substitute planting.

Specifically, this council resolves:

1) To declare its ambition to ensure that at least one additional tree is planted in the unitary area for every resident before 2050 – an estimated 345,000 trees.  

2) To create a Shropshire Tree Bank. Where a tree is lost without replacement, the council should encourage a voluntary financial contribution towards the Tree Bank, a central pot that will distribute free native saplings each autumn (perhaps in a similar manner to the council’s earlier Free Tree Scheme).

By way of indication, those felling a tree without replacement might be encouraged to pay for two saplings at £5 each. This fee would be more than adequate to cover the cost of the saplings and contribute towards administrative, storage and distribution costs. The scheme might be administered by Shropshire Council or an independent body.

The scheme would initially be open to householders, housing providers and landowners. Scope for opening extending the scheme to developers will need to be considered in the context of the government’s proposals to mandate biodiversity net gain for most developments in the forthcoming Environment Bill.

Note

Since submitting this motion, both the Environment Bill and Agriculture Bill have fallen with the prorogation of parliament by Boris Johnson. It is expected that they will be resubmitted after the Queen’s Speech. But the current government is more sceptical about climate change and the severity of the climate emergency than its predecessor. I worry that the environmental commitment in these bills will be watered down by a government that could be desperate to show business as usual after Brexit and anxious to avoid any economic shocks.

4 thoughts on “We should plant 350,000 trees in Shropshire by 2050, one for every person in the county (updated)

  1. Totally endorse this idea, about time we reversed the erosion of tree cover by each generation. Slight worries about the nurture of these young saplings – by whom?

  2. I wholeheartedly support the planting of trees, The more the merrier and better for all.
    However I think the target is pathetically low 345000 over 30 years is only 11500 per year. That should be the target for Shrewsbury alone. surely all the towns and villages should be aiming to find partners and links with land owners to plant a tree for every resident every 3 to 5 years. It is now well documented that living in or having close access to wooded areas improves well being and relieves mental stress.
    Come on Shropshire you can do it

  3. Not by 2050! By the end of next year. Let’s focus on responding to the emergency with timely action, not put it off until it is too late.

    It is essential that the UK achieves carbon neutral for our domestic emissions by 2025 and by developing the technologies and solutions we can then help other parts of the world achieve carbon neutral by 2030. Anything slower than this is not fit for purpose. People Let’s Get Real.

  4. Well done Andy for raising this matter at Shropshire Council. It must be a frustrating task to get a non progressive council to act. I agree wholeheartedly with Mark that we have to act now. Climate change is the greatest challenge facing all generations and Extinction Rebellion is right to push as hard as possible to fight for the future of the planet.

    Thanks again for your excellent bulletin.

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