Sites for almost 4,000 new urban trees have been identified across York as part of a plan to boost tree canopy coverage in the coming decades.
The city invited all ward councillors, parish and town councils and schools to suggest locations they felt might be suitable for new trees.
Charity Groundwork Yorkshire worked to assess the sites and found that 64 of the locations were suitable.
But there is not yet the cash available to support widespread tree planting, so the council is seeking out funding opportunities, including a bid to employ new staff.
You can see a full list of the identified sites in the council agenda documents here.
Environmental campaigner Debby Cobbert said: “I’m glad to see some action on urban trees because they are so important for all kinds of reasons – for urban shade, for cooling use off, giving off water vapour, for their sheer beauty and trapping pollutants.”
Labour’s Cllr Kallum Taylor “tentatively welcomed” the initiative, but raised concerns about the ability of the the council’s trees team to cope.
“They’re already struggling to stay on top of current demand,” he said. “If there’s a capacity issue, I think their numbers have massively reduced over the last decade or so.
“If we don’t have a clear plan on how thousands more trees will be managed, outside of hoping that external funding bids will come off every now and then, there’s a danger that our already extremely stretched service will struggle even more.”
Need more trees
Paul McCabe, York Community Woodland project manager, said constraints at the council were “very real” but said the recent bid for a Forestry Commission woodland creation accelerator fund was to support further officer capacity.
Executive member for the environment and climate change Cllr Paula Widdowson said: “We are at the stage where we know we can plant trees.
“The next steps are to see how we fund the posts so we can get it to happen, and after we’ve got that person in place, to fund the actual purchasing and delivery of the trees and the maintenance of the trees, of which I know there’s huge amounts of funding on it.
“We’re looking at this accelerator fund to get the person. If that doesn’t happen, we really need to look elsewhere to get the person because we do need more trees within the city.”
York’s target is to increase tree canopy cover from the current 10.8 per cent to 13 per cent in 2050 – which equates to roughly 21 hectares of new tree cover each year.
Separate to the urban planting, the new York Community Woodland to the west of the city will eventually accommodate 210,000 trees – one for each reticent of York – in partnership with Forestry England.