A new generation of trees for Exeter

Natalie Bennett & Joe Levy discuss Exeter's treesExeter Greens have accused Exeter City Council of pruning tree staff to the bare minimum and say that a lack of investment is leaving communities in the dark about when and why trees are being cut down.  Exeter Green Party has discovered that 150 trees have been cut down in conservation areas alone in the past year [1], with countless others lost across the city. Exeter’s tree cover stands at just over 22% [2] and includes some rare, culturally and locally significant trees.

Joe Levy, Green Party Candidate in St Thomas, said,

“Trees in Exeter are coming under severe pressure from development in the city and there is uncertainty about how trees are protected, especially semi-mature trees. The lack of transparency about tree management often means the first people know about a decision to fell a tree is when they hear the chainsaw. At the very least we call on the council to put up signs explaining why a diseased tree has to be cut down.”

Mr Levy believes that working with communities and using innovative technologies such as ‘i-Tree’ [3], a software assessment tool used to quantify urban trees, would enable the City to better understand the specific roles Exeter’s trees play, especially in reducing the impact of pollution and flooding. Joe Levy said:

“We can learn from places like Sidmouth Arboretum which used ‘i-Tree’. Their results demonstrate clearly that trees play a crucial role in improving our quality of life by removing pollution from the atmosphere and locking in carbon emissions. Studies also suggest trees provide a range of health benefits including improved mental health and reduced asthma3. We need a real commitment to better manage the City’s trees.”

In their manifesto[4], Exeter Greens call for the implement of a proper plan for the protection, management and growth of the City’s trees, especially significant mature and locally or rare significant trees. Mr Levy concluded:

“This is an issue in which communities can play a crucial role, like those in St Thomas, to start initiatives such as tree trails and community orchards. Investment in our trees will enhance the City and help fight Exeter’s unsafe levels of pollution, help stave off flooding and support wildlife. It will also bring communities together so future generations in Exeter can enjoy a new generation of trees.”

Notes to editors

1 Information from Exeter City Council planning applications https://exeter.gov.uk/planning-services/

2 Devon Wildlife Trust – i-Tree canopy survey February 2016 identified Exeter’s tree cover at 22.5%

3. http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/aug/15/treeconomics-street-trees-cities-sheffield-itree

4. https://exeter.greenparty.org.uk/resources/EGP/PDFs/Exeter%20City%20Council%20Green%20Manifesto%202016.pdf

Picture attached: Joe Levy speaks to Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett about Exeter Green Party’s plans to invest in the City’s trees. Credit: Nigel Cheffers- Heard


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