Next UK government urged to prioritise urban trees

3 July 2024 2 minute read

A Trees for Cities placard held aloft in front of Big Ben, with trees underneath
We're demanding stronger leadership to establish and protect urban trees

In the run up to the General Election, we need all candidates to engage with the importance of urban trees to ensure communities can be healthy, and able to adapt to a changing climate. This recognition must be taken through into a new government as a priority, otherwise lives will be shortened and our economy will pick up the bill rather than reap the benefits. Trees for Cities are asking prospective parliamentary candidates to sign their pledge to champion trees in urban areas.

Over 80% of us live in urban areas, and yet communities across the country are deprived of essential urban nature. With heatwaves taking hold across the UK, hotter temperatures are increasingly a threat to people’s livelihoods. Urban trees and woodland are one of the most powerful tools for defending people against climate change, so it’s crucial our government doesn’t overlook and undervalue their benefits.

Trees providing shade on a hot summer day, people sitting under trees
Trees provide shade in our concrete jungles

Our Manifesto for Urban Trees makes three key demands for prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs), highlighting the need to deliver tree equity (see the Tree Equity Score map for the UK) for people in urban areas, protect the trees we already have, and promote pro-tree policies.

To date, 74 prospective parliamentary candidates have signed the pledge from across a range of political parties and constituencies in the UK. A candidate representing Streatham and Croydon North states “If elected, I would be very happy to champion trees in urban areas. They make such a difference, both to carbon capture and quality of life.”

About half of the constituency is urban or suburban, and many areas desperately need more trees to improve the environment. There are so many well-documented benefits. In the town where I live we have made a lot of progress in planting trees, but we need to go further.

A pledgee on behalf of North East Somerset and Hanham

It is Trees for Cities’ hope that by encouraging prospective parliamentary candidates to promote trees within their constituencies, even if they don’t get elected, we can secure more targeted work by a range of groups, and drive targets and investment as a result.

Trees for Cities, the Woodland Trust, The Tree Council, and Confederation of Forest Industries (UK) have released a joint statement:

We need clear and strategic leadership from Government underpinned by a new trees action plan for England – connecting with all four nations to maximise the potential of trees. We also need a land use framework that identifies where tree establishment can best deliver for climate, nature, the economy and a healthier society. We stand ready to help whoever forms the government after 4 July to deliver on these aims.

Carrie Hume, Development and Partnerships Director at Trees for Cities, asserts “Trees should be managed as assets. By promoting investment in urban areas we can truly reap the benefits they offer, including within streets. We need to increase tree cover massively across the UK to recognise that everyone has a right to live amongst trees, so they can breathe easy, take shade from the heat and connect with nature.”

If you’re a prospective parliamentary candidate, please sign the pledge to champion people and trees in urban areas. If you’re a member of the public, you can share the pledge with your local politicians and key decision-makers, both in conversations and online.

Donate to Trees for Cities and together we can help cities grow into greener, cleaner and healthier places for people to live and work worldwide.