Almost three-quarters of city people want access to greenspace or parkland within walking distance from their home, a new survey shows.
Seventy-eight per cent believe that trees are essential for relaxing and making them feeling happier. A similar percentage cited their importance for health and removing air pollution.
The survey* was commissioned by the Woodland Trust and comes as it launches a nationwide ‘neighbourhood watch scheme’ for trees – to inspire city people to value and protect the natural wonders on their doorstep.
People are urged to join forces with their neighbours and apply for one of 500 Street Trees Celebration Starter Kits. They’ll get bunting, badges and funky wheelie-bin transfers to show their appreciation for their trees. The scheme was initially piloted with success in Wrexham, Leeds and Glasgow, with some exciting events already taking place.
Joseph Coles, Project Lead for Street Trees, said the scheme, which is funded by a £500K boost from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to rally people to look after threatened trees on their doorstep. A recent report showed Councils are felling more than 50 trees a day nationwide.**
He said: “Street Trees face unprecedented threats. Be it climate change, tree disease, development or council budgets. However, they bring a huge array of benefits to people – from recreation to combating pollution. With 80 per cent of the UK’s people living in urban settlements, street trees are their main daily contact with nature. If we are to keep people connected with nature we need to preserve it on their doorsteps.
“Through the Street Trees project, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we will connect people with the trees closest to them, offering them the tools and resources to both celebrate and protect them, while raising awareness at the highest levels that street trees are valuable and worth investing in and preserving.
“We need to encourage people to celebrate trees, whatever their drive might be – social cohesion, economic benefits, sentimental or simply because a tree looks nice. People need to demand that their trees are respected and protected”.
Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Street trees provide so many benefits to the communities where they are found. We’re delighted our players are able to support the Street Trees project, encouraging communities to celebrate and protect the trees on their doorsteps”
Other results from the survey included:
• 56 per cent said their main reason for visiting woods was for walking.
• 77 per cent strongly agreed that they would miss trees and green spaces if they didn’t see them in their local urban area, so protecting what we already have is vital.
• 22 per cent access woodland a minimum of once a week, with another 23 per cent accessing woodland once a month.
• 43 per cent access open greenspace a minimum of once a week, with another 25 per cent accessing it at least once a month.
• 75 per cent agreed that trees and woods help our environment by removing air pollution.
• 80 per cent of those surveyed strongly agree that trees and woods give colour and texture to cities and towns.
• 51 per cent of those surveyed would be extremely concerned and want to do something about it if street trees were removed.
Access to greenspaces, be that parks, woods, or smaller areas, was quite strongly agreed to be an important part of living in urban areas. However, people’s time commitments and the state or accessibility of local greenspaces meant that the actual number of people visiting such areas is lower than the aspiration.
To claim your Street Trees pack go to: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/streetrees