Councillors from across the political spectrum in Edinburgh are adding their signatures to a UK-wide Charter for Trees, Woods and People today, the first local authority in Scotland to do so.
The Tree Charter, launched in 2017 on the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, sets out ten principles for a society in which trees and society can stand stronger together. UK woodland conservation charity, Woodland Trust, is leading the project forward.
Elected members from all parties are signing the Charter today alongside a meeting of the Full Council at Edinburgh's City Chambers on the Royal Mile.
Signing the Charter was first proposed in a motion to Council by Green Group Councillor Claire Miller on 22 November 2018.
Council Leader Adam McVey and Depute Leader Cammy Day were the first to sign the Charter this morning, followed by Transport and Environment Convener and Vice Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes and Councillor Karen Doran.
Cllr McVey said: "Edinburgh is the UK's greenest city, with more trees than people, more green space than anywhere in the country and more green flag parks than anywhere else for people to enjoy. Since we took office in June 2017 there are 7,000 more trees in Edinburgh as we’ve ramped up our tree planting programme. It's crucial that our trees are accessible and a constant feature in our urban and rural landscape to keep our city healthy, beautiful and rich in biodiversity.
"Our support for the Tree Charter's ten principles is a public demonstration of our commitment in this regard and I would urge everyone who loves trees and wants them to continue to thrive in Edinburgh to sign it as well."
Cllr Day said: "We've got more trees per head of population than any other UK city - and Edinburgh's home to more trees than people! But trees can't look after themselves - they need us, as much as we need them.
"Trees keep our air cleaner, lower the risk of flooding, keep us cool in the summer and warmer in winter and give the wildlife in our city a home. However, our trees are under threat due to their age, changes in the environment and tree disease such as Dutch Elm.
"By signing the Charter, we are publicly pledging to keep nurturing, planting, celebrating, cherishing and increasing Edinburgh's trees."
Woodland Trust Scotland Director Carol Evans said: “Trees and woods deserve to be at the centre of national decision making, and back at the heart of our lives and communities. We are delighted to see the City of Edinburgh Council support the Tree Charter. As the first local authority in Scotland to do so, they are committing to a set of principles which will guide best practice and ensure the role of woods and trees in our lives is widely recognised. We would love to see other local authorities follow their lead.”
The Tree Charter sets out ten key principles which signatories are demonstrating they agree with and, where applicable, that they are committed to embedding in their work or approach. These are:
- Sustain landscapes rich in wildlife
- Plant for the future
- Celebrate the power of trees to inspire
- Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the power of trees
- Protect irreplaceable trees and woods
- Grow forests of opportunity and innovation
- Plan greener local landscapes
- Strengthen our landscapes with trees
- Make trees accessible to all
- Combat the threats to our habitats
Anyone can sign the Tree Charter.
- More than 12,000 trees have been planted in Edinburgh in the last two years
- Edinburgh has more trees than residents (650,000+ trees compared to 513,000 people) - and more trees per head of population than any other UK city
- Edinburgh is one of only two places in the UK (the other being Brighton) which still has elm trees thanks to the Council's ongoing Dutch Elm Disease Control Programme. This programme, which has been going since at least the early 1980s if not earlier, has ensured that the Capital still has thousands of elm trees
- The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards the best parks and greenspaces in Britain. In Scotland the scheme is run by Keep Scotland Beautiful, who award green flags to the country's best parks every year. Edinburgh has 32 city parks with Green Flag status
- Edinburgh was named the UK's greenest city in a nationwide study in January 2019