Trees now up for 'adoption' to help make East End greener
- Credit: Friends of Meath Gardens
Thousands of new street trees are to be planted in the East End to encourage people to "adopt" and look after a tree through a sponsorship scheme.
Tower Hamlets Council has signed up for the Trees for Streets scheme, which staged a promotion at the Royal London Hospital on national Clean Air Day (June 17), focussed on children’s health affected by air pollution.
The town hall already has a programme to plant 1,000 saplings and become a “carbon neutral authority” by 2025 towards creating a “carbon neutral East End” by 2050.
“Improving air quality is one of our priorities as we know how badly children are affected by pollution,” mayor John Biggs said. “Children have up to 10 per cent less lung capacity than the national average because of air pollution — this needs to change.”
The council has planted 740 trees so far after starting a campaign two years ago to reduce idling engines when parents pick up children outside schools.
It has also installed sensors in pollution hotspots to monitor air quality.
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But the latest programme is aimed at cleaning up London’s breathing space, with Tower Hamlets being the second local authority to sign up.
As part of the promotion, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, Asma Islam, met Friends of Ion Square Gardens, which maintains the open space off the busy Hackney Road.
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She said: “Trees make a real difference to neighbourhoods and are vital to achieving cleaner air. We want to acknowledge local groups making an impact.”
The programme includes an online platform for anyone to sponsor a tree in their street or neighbourhood by sending a request to the council.
Tower Hamlets will then assess the location to see if it is suitable for the planting of a sapling the following winter, which is the best time to plant.
Trees for Streets' project director Simeon Linstead said: “This lets people work with the authorities to make a difference to the world on their doorstep. We want to inspire the community to take the lead in planting trees.”
Householders are also being invited to help with regular watering and removing litter or weeds to make sure the saplings thrive, like the volunteers are doing at Ion Square Gardens.