Cambridge is losing trees say city Liberal Democrats

PUBLISHED: 08:16 20 February 2017

Cllr Ysanne Austin inspecting the recently fallen tree on Christs Pieces, knowing that the only way it can be replaced is by diverting money provided for the health of other trees.

Cllr Ysanne Austin inspecting the recently fallen tree on Christs Pieces, knowing that the only way it can be replaced is by diverting money provided for the health of other trees.

ILIFFE

A councillor has said the tree planting budget does not allow Cambridge to replant at the rate trees are being lost.

Cllr Ysanne Austin, Lib Dem spokesperson on Streets and Open Spaces said: “This all sounds terribly defensive, doesn’t it? But the key point is - no denial of our charge that the City council’s proposed tree planting budget doesn’t keep up with the rate of loss of existing trees.

“The Labour Administration doesn’t seem to be aware that even the baby tree scheme, which only a minority of new parents participate in, is itself cutting into the maintenance budget for existing trees and reducing attention to plant health and tree longevity. So even that is self defeating until the council matches its ambition with the necessary means.”

The statement comes in response to the council’s intention to run a ‘baby tree scheme’ for another year.

With the scheme’s continuation, Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces, said: “Cambridge City Council is fully committed to our target of increasing Cambridge’s tree cover, as set out in our tree strategy. Our tree cover is very important. Not only does it contribute to the beauty of our city, but it brings a wide range of environmental benefits, which are especially important at a time of climate change.

“Our trees for babies scheme a wonderful project and I encourage all new parents to take advantage of it. It is one part of this strategy to grow the city’s overall tree canopy. For example, we are supporting the growth of community orchards and we also have plans to plant up to1,500 apple trees as part of the Cambridge Community Collection linear orchard.

“This will see a beautiful collection of apple tree varieties planted to link new neighbourhoods near Trumpington with the rest of the city.

“Maintaining and increasing our tree cover is not just about planting on public land, and our new communities are contributing hugely to Cambridge’s tree stocks. At Great Kneighton, some 14,000 trees have already been planted, with another 2,000 trees in Trumpington Meadows. And in North West Cambridge there are set to be an additional 1,900 trees when the first phase of development is completed.”

“That’s exactly why we are making two positive proposals for the council’s budget,” Cllr Austin continued. “Firstly: enough funding to enable new planting in public spaces to keep up with the rate of loss and make up some lost ground. Secondly: a properly funded scheme for eight to nine-year-old children in school to choose a tree, plant it, care for it and proudly watch it grow.

“A thousand children a year for five years would be provided with a young tree to plant at home or in a suitable alternative place. This would be in addition to the current baby scheme but 500% more effective in the number of new trees we’d see being planted across the city and immeasurably more valuable in terms of hands-on learning.

“Neither of these two things is ridiculously expensive, but together they help the council stop deceiving everyone that its leadership is really serious about the city’s tree stock, when in reality it is falling short.”

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