Tree cover across Welsh towns and cities is falling – a new report has claimed.
The report is based on a survey, commissioned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which used aerial photography from 2006 and 2009 to identify and map the canopy spread of trees.
It has revealed that trees only covered 17% of land in Wales’s urban areas in 2009, which is average when compared to other towns and cities across the world.
But tree cover varies widely across Wales, from just 6% in Rhyl and 9% in Port Talbot to 30% in Treharris, 27%
in Abertillery, and 23%
in Townhill, Swansea.
And between 2009 and 2006, more than 11,000 large trees were lost altogether.
Comparing canopy cover in town and cities by county, Carmarthenshire had 15.1%, Neath Port Talbot, 16.6%, and Swansea, 18.9%.
The national average is 16.8%
The towns of Neath (23.1%) and Bridgend (17.9%) both have cover above the national average.
Pontardawe (26.6%) has some of the highest canopy cover in the western valleys followed closely by the Neath valley.
with 34.3%, is Wales’s highest canopied community (which includes two heavily wooded areas).
Other high canopy towns are Glanaman (28.1%), Ogmore Valley (23.1%) and Crynant (21%).
The hope is that the figures will help inform how to manage urban trees in a better way for the future.
Trees remove harmful air pollution, reducing incidents of asthma and heart disease; reduce flood risks by slowing surface water run-off after heavy downpours; and absorb and store carbon dioxide, helping to counteract climate change. They also provide food and habitat for wildlife such as birds and bees.
Dafydd Fryer from Natural Resources Wales said: “Trees are essential to life and provide natural services to improve the quality of life of people in our towns and cities.
“They provide a vital service to communities by cleaning the air of pollution, reducing flood risk and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions by absorbing them from the atmosphere.
“The study shows that if we can manage and plan where and which species of trees we plant in our towns and cities – and look after the trees we already have – then they can help make our communities sustainable. We will be sharing the findings of the survey with local authority planners and decision makers.”