Edinburgh launches ‘Million Tree City’

Million tree city launch

Edinburgh has officially launched its ambitious target to become a Million Tree City by 2030 as part of its commitment to be net zero by the end of the decade.

Earlier today (Wednesday 13 October), Lord Provost Frank Ross was joined by representatives of the Edinburgh Million Tree Forum to plant a gingko tree in the grounds of Lauriston Castle as they pledged their commitment to making sure Edinburgh will be home to one million trees by the end of this decade. We will join counterparts all over the world in becoming a Million Tree City.

The Edinburgh Million Tree Forum is made up of representatives from relevant Council services, the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, the Woodland Trust, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Trees of Edinburgh, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Trust for Conservation Volunteers and the Edinburgh Living Landscape Initiative who are all working together on an updated vision for trees in Edinburgh and find ways of planting more trees, more quickly.

Following the planting of the gingko tree, the group were then taken on a tour of the grounds by volunteers from the Friends of Lauriston Castle where a further two trees were planted. 
Edinburgh already outstrips other Scottish cities by having more trees per head of population - there are currently more than 730,000 urban trees, compared to around 519,000 residents. The move to increase the number of trees in the city will help Edinburgh lessen the impacts of climate change by providing cooling in heatwaves, surface water management for heavy rainfall as well as some carbon storage and a home for wildlife.

We're working with Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust and Woodland Trust to deliver this ambitious target for the city. Woodland Trust has contributed a grant of £298,055 from its Emergency Tree Fund to support project delivery. This money will support project management and kick-start tree planting, fundraising, public engagement and volunteer activity between 2021 and 2023.

Before planting the tree, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Frank Ross said:

We may have more trees in our city than people but to get to our city's 2030 net zero target, we must plant more.

Climate change will impact on all of us, and we all need to play our part to mitigate the effects. A key aspect of the proposed Climate Strategy is for us all to build upon our previous efforts, and Edinburgh Million Tree City Project, offers us all the opportunity to do just this.

This is not a project for the Council, it is a project for our city, our communities, and for us as citizens, with a shared ambition for Edinburgh to have at least one million trees by 2030.

While 75% of our trees are privately managed, we have a shared responsibility to manage our trees well, and to act when they get damaged or require treatment or replacement. I’m delighted to plant this gingko today and I am keen that this young tree symbolises, like a barometer, the growth of the project. Each inch demonstrates how our stakeholders and communities are coming together to plant more trees, delivering the millionth tree or more.”

Culture and Communities Convener Donald Wilson said:

We're very proud that Edinburgh is already one of the UK's greenest cities, with more trees than people, more green space and more green flag parks than any other place in Scotland for people to enjoy. But we want to do even better, especially as we strive towards our hugely ambitious target of making the city net zero by 2030.

It's impossible to overstate the benefits trees bring to the urban landscape. They help clean our air, reduce the risk of flooding, keep us cool in the summer and warmer in winter and give the wildlife in our city a home, as well as making neighbourhoods look and feel tranquil and appealing. They are essential to the wellbeing of our citizens.

We estimate that Edinburgh needs around 250,000 more trees to be planted in the next 10 years on a both public and private land and I’m excited that our project has now officially launched and look forward to working with partners and citizens as we go forward. As the project continues we’ll be reaching out to residents and advising on ways they can help help and get involved.”

Culture and Communities Vice Convener Amy McNeese-Mechan said:

By joining other global cities such as New York and Shanghai, as a Million Tree City we’ll be able to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to lessen the impact of climate change and help Edinburgh take climate action and make the city an even greener place to leave for future generations.

Our dedicated Parks, Greenspace and Cemeteries service is leading a project to increase tree cover to help Edinburgh fulfil its Climate Emergency commitments and become a Million Tree City by 2030.

It is an ambitious target but it is an achievable one and we’ll reach it if we continue to work together with our partners and citizens. Whether you live in the city, own land or property, if you are a business, charity or a school, or if you just love Edinburgh and want to see it flourish for future generations, we can all do our bit and I look forward to the project progressing.

Tim Hall, Head of Estates and Programmes with Woodland Trust Scotland said:

We launched our Emergency Tree Fund to support local authorities planting new urban trees needed to help tackle the climate and nature crises. I am delighted we are backing this ambitious bid to make Edinburgh a Million Tree City, which will bring huge benefits to people and wildlife.

Charlie Cumming, the Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust Chief Executive said:

ELGT are delighted to be working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Woodland Trust to deliver such an ambitious and worthwhile tree planting project over the next 10 years. The benefits of this increase in tree planting will not only address the effects of climate change but will also encourage community participation with the residents of Edinburgh and will benefit people's health and wellbeing. With so much focus this month on COP26 we appreciate that we need to start making an impact now; with more tree planting we will be able to improve our neighbourhoods and streetscapes and have a long lasting impact on our local environments.

Two further community tree planting events will take place this week organised by partners. School pupils will help Edinburgh & Lothian Greenspaces Trust to plant a “Wee Forest” of 600 whip trees in West Pilton Park funded by Nature Scotland. A further 400 whip trees will be planted in Redwood Park, Colinton Mains by The Conservation Volunteers, organised and funded by the Council.
More details will be released about how citizens can get involved in the coming months or the team can be contacted via email.

Published: October 13th 2021