Over 400,000 saplings planted by National Highways to offset the felling of mature trees in roadwork schemes across England, have failed due to drought and ‘a lack aftercare’, reports The Times.
The government-owned company released data for nine of its 38 larger road projects in response to a freedom of information request, with an average of 30.4% of trees failing across the nine projects.
The trees were planted at the end of the 2020 planting season, prior to the 40°C heatwave the country experienced in that year.
Almost half of the 860,000 trees planted on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon were reported to have failed – approximately 45% – with a further 75% of the 2,768 trees planted along the A45 and A6 Chowns Mill Junction also failing.
John Parker, chief executive of the Arboricultural Association, told The Times: “Projects should be planned for maximum survival, rather than the maximum number of trees planted. These figures reaffirm that the focus still needs to move further towards tree establishment than planting, looking at ensuring maintenance and tree aftercare plans are in place for such projects.”
Parker continued by saying tree watering was crucial, as the extreme heat experienced in recent summers was “likely to have contributed to the deaths.”
All data released is in regard to trees planted between 2018 – 2023.