cherry tree in flower

Cherry trees and grass roots activism

Kent County Council (KCC) have just launched Kent Green Action.

Valuing and protecting the local environment not only protects the natural world but also has benefits for our health, wellbeing, and local economy, now and in the future.

Kent Green Action

Who can disagree? But warm words don’t butter parsnips. We need action.
Our community scored a big and hopefully significant success in the last few days saving a beautiful, mature, tree from the chop. The magnificent cherry tree outside Ellington Infant School in St Lawrence was earmarked for felling. It’s true that the roots are breaking through the pavement and cherry tree roots can cause damage to nearby structures. However this tree, it turns out, is not only a fine mature specimen but is also loved by locals and this has helped to stop its destruction.

It’s not a case of tree huggers but more a case of tree lovers in Thanet. We know that compared with the rest of Kent we have fewer trees and it appears, despite tree planting efforts, Thanet’s green canopy is in decline. We simply can’t afford to loose more trees! Apart from their glorious forms, ever-changing colours, offering shelter to many birds and insects, trees are our green lungs. Indeed the Victorian’s knew this only too well and embarked on park building with vigour. Most towns and cities have a fantastic legacy of green lungs, replenishing and refreshing our air and providing a great public amenity.

Thanet needs more trees. Many many more. Those that we have do need increased and more potent protection. A balance must be struck, between where trees (and root systems) in particular create a hazard or problem and the plain fact that they do good, and cannot be easily replaced. Even a three for one replanting scheme would not adequately replace one lost mature beauty. It takes many years for trees to do ‘their thing’, breathing in CO2 and exhaling oxygen. We simply cannot take that single most beneficial attribute for granted. So let’s fight for all our trees.

The UK has a net zero carbon emissions target enshrined in law, however to meet this, the Climate Change Committee recommends that 1.5 billion trees would need to be planted by 2050. That’s roughly 45,000 football pitches of trees that need to be planted every year. We need to double our efforts to meet this target and KCC certainly need to take increased action to reach its 2030 carbon neutral target. Both by planting trees but also protecting existing ones.

Going forward I will, as requested by residents, take up this matter with Kent County Council.

Here’s my seven point plan for more trees

  1. ‘Sense check’ every decision to fell a tree. Who will miss the tree? How will it’s absence impact the area? What will happen to the tree ecology? When and how will the tree by replaced?
  2. Where trees are in low numbers, in areas such as Thanet, implement a 3 for 1 replanting scheme and re plant the correct type of trees. Where possible plant the replacement trees first!
  3. Implement a community tree warden scheme. All trees and newly planted trees in particular need to be actively cared and monitored by the local community.
  4. Trees for people! We’ve enjoyed a long tradition of placing bench’s in memory of dear departed loved ones. Wouldn’t it be tremendous to also plant trees – maybe with signage (digital or analog) to signify our remembrances and to leave a wonderful lasting positive legacy.
  5. Kent County Council’s latest campaign, Kent Green Action, aims to connect people with nature and inspire everyone to take action to protect and improve their local environment. The next step forward should be to include trees as part of the Kent Environmental Indicators.
  6. Let’s get as many trees as possible covered by a TPO. Trees with a TPO are replaced within 2 years, so this is very worthwhile.
  7. Kent County Councillors members grant has been cut significantly in recent years. I’d like to see a new grant available via councillors specifically to be used to plant trees and hedge grows.

Please write to me to let me know what you think and what else we can add to our tree action plan.

Tree wardens and TPOs

You can find out more about tree wardens here

Tree protection orders (TPOs) protect all types of tree – including specific trees, groups of trees, areas or woodlands. This includes privately-owned trees if they provide public amenity benefits. TPOs can be suitable for general preservation of trees, but also in emergency cases, such as when new developments pose a threat. 

You can find out more about tree protection orders here,

KCC’s ‘fault’ reporting page

You can report a tree at the page linked below. There are several options in the dropdown list including those for damaged trees, obstructions or making a request for tree planting.