Tree planting statement
Trees are vital to life on earth. As the biggest plants on the planet, they:
- give us oxygen
- store carbon
- stabilise and nourish soil
- cleanse and cool the air
- provide shelter and shade
- protect us from flooding
- give life and shelter to wildlife
- provide food, timber and medicine.
There are also numerous community benefits to planting trees. Tree planting events help residents take pride in their neighbourhood, and become more engaged and connect with nature. Trees and woodland provide proven mental health benefits and encourage us to live more active lives.
However trees, and the wildlife they support, are in trouble. Tree planting in the UK is in decline and our existing trees are under threat from human development, agriculture, disease, age and the climate emergency.
We are working urgently to reverse this decline by planting trees all over the county. In October 2019 we committed to plant a tree for every person in Kent, which totals just over 1.5 million trees.
Our work to plant trees in Kent
The UK has a target to deliver 19% national woodland cover as a key part of the country’s response to the climate and ecological emergency, and target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
We're working with partners including Natural England and The Tree Council to contribute to the national plan as much as we can. The project is being led by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Increasing tree cover is an important part of our strategy for reaching our net-zero target, protecting biodiversity, and mitigating the climate emergency.
A single broad-leaf tree can absorb around a tonne of carbon dioxide during its lifetime, and a single oak tree can support 280 species of insect.
The Trees Outside Woodlands project
From 2021 to 2023 we're working with our partners and other local authorities to support projects that plant trees in our cities, towns and countryside.
We've been awarded £500,000 of funding from the Government to run pilot schemes which aim to:
- create new wildlife habitats
- help tackle climate change
- find cost-effective and innovative ways to increase tree coverage
- increase the volume of locally produced, bio-secure tree stock in Kent.
Planting trees in urban areas
Street tree planting can benefit more people and wildlife than any other type of tree, but their numbers are declining nationally and they cost more to plant and maintain than trees planted elsewhere.
Our first pilot, Urban Tree Establishment Funding, will test ways to increase tree cover in urban areas. We plan to develop several different approaches for sustainable and resilient planting, with a focus on:
- reflecting a 'right tree in the right place' ethos in new housing or commercial developments
- planting new trees in existing urban streets
- small scale planting in local parks, greens and open spaces.
Our second project, Alternative management of roadside corridors, will investigate if natural regeneration, seed sowing, and other techniques could increase tree populations along roadsides.
A key focus of the pilot will be creating wildlife corridors to reconnect our fragmented woodlands. This provides safe and biologically diverse travel routes for wildlife and people.
A number of trial plots are being delivered in collaboration with partners in local councils and national agencies.
Free tree scheme
In August 2022 we are giving away thousands of trees to residents, schools, community groups and businesses in Kent.
The programme is a test to see how different funding approaches can impact efforts to increase tree cover in the county.