The deadline for questions to be submitted to the Monitoring Officer is 10 February 2020.
Question from Councillor L-J Evans
Many Councillors have received emails from Friends of the Earth asking us to support a doubling of tree coverage in the BCP Council area. Would the Portfolio Holder please tell us whether we are planning to do this and how many trees we are currently planting.
Response by Councillor Felicity Rice (Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change)
This Council is committed to delivering on its promise to tackle climate change and species loss. Last July we declared a climate and ecological emergency.
Whilst we are committed to planting more trees, we cannot commit to a doubling of numbers in the conurbation without understanding how this could be achieved. We recognise that much of our open space is already designated for its precious nature and habitats, including heathland and saltmarshes, and managing some of those places for endangered species means preventing an increase in tree cover.
Firstly, for the long term, we are working on a new Green Infrastructure Strategy to assess and plan for our green spaces for both now and in the future; this will be followed by a more detailed strategy for trees. We expect to have produced the Green Infrastructure Strategy within the next 12-14 months, which has been funded by the national Future Parks programme, a partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Trust and Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
The early stages of this work are focussed on pulling together data from Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole into a single place. We are also gathering ideas and thoughts on how we can deliver real action, to this end we welcome the ideas that have been sent to us by residents, businesses and other local organisations. They can continue to send us ideas by visiting our website at www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/climate.
As this work progresses, we’ll develop ideas into a plan, prioritising those proposals and projects that offer the best opportunities to impact positively on climate and ecology. We have already committed to exploring a number of ideas such as:
· Purchasing or identifying land available for large tree planting schemes
· Allowing natural woodland regeneration on some sites
· Investigating community tree planting schemes
· Tree planting on suitable grassed amenity spaces
· Additional street trees
· Natural burial sites
· Increasing protection to our existing trees in the conurbation through planning policy
In the shorter term we’ve taken some initial actions already:
Last year the Council announced that we’d start to carbon offset the Bournemouth Air Festival, a scheme that is allowing us to work with several local schools and nature reserves to plant over 200 new trees in 2020. The scheme also funds the protection of land within the Amazon forest from deforestation.
We have also planted a new hedgerow with 500 tree whips in Hicks Farm this year.
We are also pleased to announce that we will be working with residents so that residents are able to grow native trees from seed in their own gardens, ready for replanting in the next 2-3 years as part of our BCP tree strategy.
I am also pleased to announce that we’ll be giving away 500 young native trees to residents this spring. We’ll shortly be announcing more details on this scheme which has been funded jointly by the Council and through public donations to the Bournemouth Parks Foundation’s climate fund.