Trees Vital for Post-COVID Wellbeing
The government’s England Tree Strategy must be clear in setting out the role of trees in supporting biodiversity and public health post-COVID-19, says the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).
The strategy, due to be published later this year, is particularly relevant to the planning profession in the light of the government’s recent Planning White Paper which committed to combat climate change and
improve biodiversity through the planning system.
The white paper also reaffirmed a commitment to make all new streets tree-lined, but the RTPI says there will be a need for increased resourcing, guidance and specialist support to deliver on this ambition. The RTPI also says the strategy would be most effective if it outlined the need for ‘intelligent’ tree planting targets that looked at the quality and type of trees and the local tree resource rather than just the quantity.
RTPI Vice President Wei Yang FRTPI said: “The experiences of lockdown and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have reemphasised the multiple benefits provided by access to green spaces – the England Tree Strategy should set out how trees can support public health and wellbeing, biodiversity, amenity, clean air, carbon capture and a green economic recovery.
“The RTPI’s Plan The World We Need report highlighted the importance of access to green spaces and it is clear that trees are central to the vitality of those spaces. The planning system will have an important role to play in delivering an effective strategy. There will be a need to support planners, including by restoring funding for local authority tree officers with professional qualifications and expertise, so that trees can survive and thrive for future generations to enjoy.”
In its consultation response, the RTPI also says that it is making the case for a ‘total environment plan’ which takes a holistic approach to all environmental matters, including trees. Such a plan, the RTPI says, would encourage a more joined-up approach to all relevant environmental and biodiversity issues.