‘Milestone’ street tree pledge signed
Members of the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership have signed a pledge to deliver on the city’s long-term street tree strategy.
Representatives from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Sheffield Council and its contractor Amey, the Woodland Trust and Sheffield Tree Action Groups made the commitment official last week.
Liz Ballard, chief executive of the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and chair of the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership group, said: “This pledge by all partners marks the start of a new chapter for our Sheffield street trees and how they are looked after into the future. To have the council, Amey and community partners commit to deliver this strategy for the benefit of Sheffield – its community and its trees – is the great result of our hard work over the last two years.”
It follows years of disputes over the felling of thousands of street trees as part of a £2.2 billion PFI contract between the council and Amey.
Christine King, of Sheffield Tree Action Group(s), said: “Whilst it’s been a long and somewhat difficult road from where we started to where we are now, credit must go to the partners for their readiness to combine openness and honesty with the determination to make this work.
“We now have a real opportunity to work together with the city to maintain, increase and enhance the street trees that so many put heart and soul into defending – let’s do this.”
A final version of the strategy was approved by the council’s cabinet in March, following a consultation in 2020.
The strategy provides an outline for long-term vision to promote and enhance the city’s network of street trees – ensuring they are well-maintained and cared for, resistant to threats of disease and climate change and deliver benefits to people and the environment.
Kate Josephs, chief executive of the council, said: “This pledge marks a milestone for our city’s street trees, following collaboration and dedication from all partners to produce the new strategy…
“Our commitment to this strategy is just the beginning; we know the hard work is yet to come…
“From cleaning the air that we breathe to providing local environmental benefits like shade, natural traffic calming and reducing verge and pavement parking, we want to harness all the advantages that trees bring to our developing society, guaranteeing their place in our future.
“Some of this work is already underway and crucially, the process of giving people the opportunity to have their say on street tree decisions has already started, with many residents already taking part in the individual trees consultations via CitizenSpace in recent months.”
Sarah Shorley, acting programme lead for urban trees at the Woodland Trust, which recently provided a £200,000 boost to Sheffield to bring more trees to the city, said: “Signing this pledge represents accountability – a commitment to delivering the partnership’s strategy for protecting and enhancing Sheffield’s network of street trees. The Woodland Trust is proud to have played a role in developing the strategy through a truly collaborative approach and is ready to support its delivery.”