If you’ve ever lamented the loss of a tree on your road – or wished for some greenery to break up the urban sprawl – now is the time to do something about it. This month sees the launch of Plant Your Postcode, a new campaign that encourages Brighton residents to replenish the city’s tree count and help create a happier, healthier environment.
Seven Dials resident Penny Hudd is leading the campaign. She was moved to take action when the council chopped down two diseased elms on her street last year. “I knew the council did not have the money to replace them, so I decided to find out what I could do instead,” she says. “I got talking to Hove Civic Society and discovered they had been involved in planting around 100 new trees on that side of the city over the past five years. But no one was doing it in Brighton.”
Plant Your Postcode, which is backed by the Civic Society as well as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), encourages people to work in groups to request that the city council assesses a site where they would like to see a tree replaced or planted. If the site is suitable (land where trees have stood historically is likely to be approved but planting new trees is subject to certain conditions), the group can then begin fundraising to cover the costs. “Planting in a park or where there are soft verges costs up to £387, but in inner-city areas planting street trees can cost £440 or more, as kerbs and hard surfaces have to be replaced.”
Individuals can make donations towards the cost of new trees, and Hudd would like to see schools taking up the cause too. The city council’s budget for this sort of work is a fraction of what it was before the financial crash of 2007, she says. “One can understand that – there are other things that take priority. But after a few years, those cuts start to show. And trees are really important. House prices are higher in green areas; people drive more slowly. Trees help reduce our carbon footprint; they provide flood mitigation; they clean the air.”
Hudd is hopeful that the campaign will be a success. Brighton and Hove has form when it comes to protecting trees, as evidenced during the 1970s when the city was praised for fending off the spread of Dutch Elm Disease, which would wipe out 25 million trees across the UK. We have more than 17,000 elms dotted around in areas including Preston Park, Carden Hill, Shirley Drive and The Level – the largest collection in the country. “Now many of those trees are reaching the end of their lives so action is needed to plant the young trees that will, in time, replace them. It’s an important project; we’re planting for the future.”