Local authorities have spent more than £11 million of ratepayers’ money on planting trees since 2015, but with little or now aftercare they often fail to survive. The Telegraph has more.
At least 80 local authorities are failing to record whether trees planted to help climate change are surviving, despite them spending more than £11 million in council and central Government funds.
Others report survival rates well below expected, with some projects leaving no trees alive amid concern that planting schemes are being undertaken without adequate expertise.
Experts say a survival rate of 90-95% should be expected if tree-planting schemes are well planned and have adequate aftercare.
The high rates of failure, and lack of monitoring, among local authority schemes raise concerns that money is being wasted on rushed planting projects. Some local authorities said failed trees would be replaced, requiring additional resources and manpower.
The deaths of trees planted for carbon offsetting purposes also raises concerns that councils and businesses may be able to greenwash their pollution, by claiming to have offset their emissions with trees that do not survive.
The Government has pledged more than £9 million to plant hundreds of thousands of trees in communities across England, to help hit its targets of 30,000 hectares of new woodland annually across the UK by 2025.
But Andy Egan, the head of conservation policy for the Woodland Trust, which provides grant funding for council tree planting schemes, said local authorities often lacked the resources to look after newly planted trees.
“Too many local authorities lack the additional resources and capacity needed to look after newly planted trees and to help them survive conditions like the drought we had this summer,” he said. “Equally poor planning practice is putting many much-loved mature trees at risk.”
“The Woodland Trust is calling on Government to use its Environmental Improvement Plan to ensure the long-term investment that’s needed to protect and care for our urban trees is in place.”