Opposition Spokesperson for Environment, Transport & Sustainability, Councillor Gary Wilkinson:

Our city’s trees are being impacted by two very serious diseases,. Ash dieback and Elm disease. Ash dieback cannot be contained but Elm disease can potentially be brought back under control.

This year we are losing far greater numbers of elms than normal. If we do not bring the disease back under control elm loss will rise rapidly and lead to the loss of most of the city’s elms. We must fight conserve a unique collection of trees and the wildlife that depends upon them.

Global warming and the spread of pest and disease means we have an overdependence on a limited number of tree species. Whilst saddened by the potential loss of so many ash trees and loss of elms, it is encouraging to know that this will provide planting opportunities which can be used to build a more resilient tree stock going forwards.

In the Council’s Open Spaces Strategy 2017 consultation the public clearly identified trees as the most important thing to them in the city’s parks and open spaces: the survey had 3542 responses. There has been a lot of public enthusiasm to increase the number of trees in the city and our residents rightly want us to do what we can to protect the city’s trees.

The council has committed to Labour’s pledge of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and to get there we must increase the number of trees in the city. Our trees do indeed provide well established benefits like reducing airborne pollutants, decreasing urban temperatures, improving mental health and reducing flood risk amongst many others.

It is up to us to preserve as many of them as possible for future generations to come.

Photo: Creative Commons

The fight against Elm Disease
The fight against Elm Disease
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