Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party are delighted that Oswestry Town Council unanimously passed a motion on 11 September, proposed by Councillor Olly Rose, to aspire to planting a tree per head of population in the Oswestry area (circa 17,000 ) over the next 3 planting seasons.
We are hoping other councils will make their own similar commitments.
After the meeting Councillor Rose stated:- "I’m very pleased that our council is taking the step to get a good start on tree planting to work towards our commitment to tackle climate change. The council has got under way with a number of measures already, for example we are near to finalising plans for EV car charging points and have recently moved to a green energy tariff, but trees take a long time to grow to reach their potential of removing CO2 from the environment as well as other pollutants, providing shelter to help keep us cool as temperatures rise and hosting many diverse kinds of insects, so they are great for biodiversity too. We now need to work with other councils as well as members of the community and business sector to create a planting plan as soon as we can."
There was a good turnout from members of the local Extinction Rebellion group at the meeting who read out a letter encouraging councillors to make a start with tree planting urgently.
In the news
- 17,000 new trees proposed for Oswestry - one for each person in the town Shropshire Star, 11 September 2019
Full text of the motion
Councillors will be aware of the increasing number of reports stressing the importance of tree planting in the amelioration of climate change. The Woodland Trust proposes that we need a new tree per head of the UK population planted per year, EVERY year for the next 30 years, and if other carbon reduction targets are not met ,the rate of planting would need to be greater still.
Although National Government will need to be responsible for delivering policies to enable this to happen quickly, local councils need to do their part.
Tree-planting in England actually fell well short of government targets despite promises to restore and plant new woodland across the country to combat the climate change crisis. Only 3,507 acres of trees were planted in England in the year to March 2019, an over 70% shortfall on government targets. The tree cover remains at 10% of land.
However there are a number of grants that can be applied for both urban and rural tree planting e.g. The Urban Tree Planting fund which we can put forward our expression of interest now, ready for the next application date.
Many councils are commiting to tree planting schedules e.g.Cornwall Council has committed to planting an 8,000 hectare forest for example, at a cost of up to £30,000,000. They plan to offer the possibility of businesses purchasing carbon offsets .Rugby is planting 25,000 trees partly using a grant from Natural England . Locally, Sellatyn and Gobowen parish councils have committed to planting 100 trees so far.
I propose that this council has the aim and aspiration to plant a tree per head of our population circa 17,000 by the latest 21/22 planting season. Giving us 3 planting years. As trees are best planted between October and April it is important that this council makes its commitment now to get a good start on planting and commits to substantial progress quickly. This motion makes 7 proposals to work towards this goal.
- We organise a meeting with the surrounding rural parishes. St Martins and Gobowen Weston Rhyn, Oswestry Rural, Whittington etc with the aim of working on a plan together to facilitate the most effective tree planting. It may be that some of the rural parishes have more land available to plant on and Oswestry may be better placed financially to help ,or organisationally to help find suitable planting sites to fulfill our quota, this could be a great example of councils working together to combat climate change. Other ideas may come forward from such a meeting e.g. purchasing land to create a community Wood;/Forest or more community orchards.
- Planting on our own land e.g. the Cemetery, Brogynton Park, Bailey Head.
- Asking Shropshire Council for permission to plant on their land within the town e.g. Shelf Bank, Henley Wood,other areas around buildings e.g. Monkmoor Court, the racecourse.
- Making residents and schools aware of schemes such as that run by the Woodland Trust to issue free trees to community groups or groups of residents. Also to present information around the importance of tree planting to encourage those that are able to do so to plant a tree each via our website,social media,engaging the press etc.
- To set up a section of the council website to record activities within the community and council to combat climate change and protect biodiversity,e.g. People sending photos of tree planting activity. Keeping a record of individuals or groups planting trees,e.g. Thermometer image to add up to the quota as it progresses.
- To call on local tree experts in the community to elicit advice on types and planting schedules.
- To write to Shropshire Council asking them to support us in the above as part of their own commitment to dealing with our planet's climate emergency and asking if they have plans to tree plant themselves within the town.