A new toolkit has been published, designed to provide local authorities across the country with specific guidance on tree planting, supporting them to plan for the landscape of the future and helping to tackle climate change, build greater resilience and develop nature recovery.
Commissioned by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) and funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund, the Value of Trees toolkit provides information on species selection and latest guidance on tree planting and maintenance and is aimed at local authorities and third party organisations, such as developers.
Leicestershire County Council, together with specialist consultants Treeconomics, took the lead on the project, which includes a tree valuation matrix - this calculates the monetary value of different tree species according to the ecosystem services they provide, including carbon storage and sequestration, flood management and air pollution removal.
Additionally, a trees species selection tool helps designers to decide on the right species for a location depending on the local environmental conditions and required characteristics such as crown shape or autumn colour.
Although the guidance has been developed for Leicestershire, the framework is adaptable and can be applied to other geographical locations, taking into consideration local environmental and landscape characteristics.
Mark Kemp, President of ADEPT said: “Local authorities are planting trees as part of their plans to accelerate woodland creation and support their climate change agendas, but we are concerned about challenges that may be presented by diseases such as ash dieback.
“ADEPT wanted to measure the impact of ash dieback on local authorities and develop support for local authorities across the country, so we commissioned the Value of Trees project. We wanted to develop a considered strategy to delivering ecosystem services and create a consistent, evidence-based approach.
“This guidance document has the potential to become a decision making framework for local authorities and others across the country and we hope it will also help to influence national policy.”
Ginny Clarke, Rees Jeffreys Road Fund Vice Chair, said: “Rees Jeffreys Road Fund objectives are to foster improvements in the engineering, management and use of roads, so that they are safer, more environmentally sensitive, and more aesthetically pleasing. We are therefore pleased to support the Value of Trees Project and hope it proves a useful tool to highways authorities across the UK.”
Councillor Blake Pain, lead member for the environment and the green agenda at Leicestershire County Council, said: “Leicestershire County Council has shown its commitment to protecting and increasing its tree population by working in partnership to develop the Tree Charter and the Net Zero Action Plan. The Value of Trees work is a further step in the right direction towards a future with trees that are thriving and delivering multiple benefits for Leicestershire residents.”
Leicestershire County Council will now be piloting the guidance and testing the framework in their area.
The next phase of the project will look at how Leicestershire’s Tree Charter, developed in partnership with The National Forest, can be extended to encompass the findings of the project. The team are also considering developing software where tree species can be selected depending on a number of variables.