In Croydon, where hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their homes in February due to flooding following the wettest winter since records began, the council has managed to axe 1,703 street trees in three years – about 5 per cent of the borough’s street tree stock.
Planting trees is widely seen as a first line of defence against the impact of climate change. Even our own council, which is responsible for around 33,000 street trees, says that trees “improve the environment and contribute to improving people’s health”, filtering dust and pollution from the air and improving local air quality.
But in Croydon from 2010 to 2013, the council axed 168 more trees than it planted, one of the worst records in London.
The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change report today warned that we face an increase in the number extreme weather events, including wetter winters and more heat-related deaths.
The research into London’s street trees was conducted by Jenny Jones, the Green Party London Assembly Member. It discovered that London-wide, there was a net increase of nearly 9,000 street trees planted by London boroughs over the three-year period 2010 to 2013. But that pattern was not reflected in Croydon.
“At a time we should be preserving and building up our street tree stocks to help cool and combat the health impacts of heatwaves, a number of boroughs are going backwards, chopping down more trees than they are planting,” Jones said.
“To help London adapt to temperature increases the Mayor of London has a strategic aim of increasing tree canopy cover by 5 per cent by 2025, the equivalent of 2 million extra trees. It is not clear how this will be achieved, nor how this is targeted towards the most built-up locations where heat island effect is most pronounced and the risk to vulnerable people is greatest.”
Summer temperatures are predicted to keep rising, aggravating the effects of London’s “Urban Heat Island” effect, which typically keeps the most built-up areas warmer, typically by 3-4-degrees C, compared to outlying rural areas. During a heatwave this can be as much as 11 degrees C warmer. Scientists from Imperial College London found that in the most vulnerable districts, in London and the south-east, the odds of dying from heart or lung causes increased by more than 10 per cent for every 1-degree C rise in temperature.
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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