Tree canopy over part of Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia, London Borough of Camden.
Tree canopy at Whitfield Street opposite Crabtree Fields public park. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

Camden Council has approved a procurement strategy to plant and maintain at least 250 new street trees across the borough during 2022 and 2023.

The council says trees are critical for making the urban environment liveable and are part of its response to climate change. It seeks to increase the canopy cover of the borough while maintaining the diversity of its species, states a report on the decision.

Under its tree planting strategy the council has a target to plant a minimum of 600 trees per year including at least 250 new trees.

In the financial year 2020-2021 Camden planted a total of 579 trees (including in parks) but removed 382 (including self-sown trees from street property sites). Of these, 420 street trees were planted and 151 had to be removed.

The current planting contract is delivered by idverde and is due to end in July 2022. The new contract will start on 11 July 2022 and will run for 16 months and has an estimated cost of £177,897.50, states the report.

“The Government’s target to become carbon net zero by 2050 involves planting millions of trees which they have provided funding for through the nature for climate fund. This has seen an increase in tree planting nationally, which has put pressure on an already stretched industry,” states the report.

Camden will approach three “suitable industry providers” — including idverde — and invite them to bid for the contract with the intention to appoint one provider.

Tree planting will be targeted in areas of the borough with low canopy cover. “This will give the residents in those areas the same benefits as those in areas of high canopy cover,” states the report.

Tree canopy cover by ward across Camden. NB: chart refers to wards pre-May 2022. Image: Camden Council.

The current canopy cover across the borough — including council land, private land and green spaces not managed by the Council — is 22.9 percent.

In Bloomsbury, which includes Fitzrovia East, it is only 16 percent according to its own data.

Camden’s strategy is to achieve at least 26.6 percent average canopy cover across the borough by 2045. This is a relatively modest proposal considering some UK cities and boroughs are aiming for 30 to 40 percent canopy cover, and that inner London is one of the hottest places in the country.

One study states there should be a canopy cover of at least 40 percent to achieve any meaningful reduction in summer heat. 

Decision and report: Procurement strategy for the location, planting and maintenance of new street trees.

Camden Tree Planting Strategy 2020-2025.

Camden Tree Statistics.

Achieving tree canopy cover targets: A case study of Bristol, UK.