Council reveals plan for a tree warden on every estate in Islington

A nursery for trees that will be planted across the borough. Photograph: Islington Clean Air Parents

Residents will soon be able to help green ambitions in Islington bear fruit.

The council is launching a tree warden programme at this month’s environmental festival in the borough.

It wants to increase the green canopy cover from trees from 25 per cent to 30 per cent by 2050 and plant a minimum of 430 trees a year.

It comes as Islington was identified by City Hall as one of the six London boroughs most at risk from the effects of climate change, such as hotter temperatures and flooding.

The borough is one of the densest in London, and the warming effects of climate change could be made worse by the urban heat island effect which makes cities hotter than rural areas.

This year Islington Clean Air Parents raised £23,000 for planting and maintenance of 161 trees from the Forest of Change display at Somerset House.

This will boost the number of new trees the council can help plant this year to 680.

It already has more than 50 park user groups throughout Islington, and 60 gardening groups on its housing estates.

Now it wants to have a tree warden on every estate so “they can advocate for trees”. It is hoped they can help encourage tree-planting on private land too.

Typically, tree wardens get trained to spot health problems with trees and help plant new ones.

The council also said it will face a “real challenge to find places on the highway” for new trees. Sometimes underground utilities can make it difficult to find suitable places.

“We need residents to help with planting – we can’t do it all by ourselves,” said Andrew Oldfield, the council’s head of green space and leisure in front of the environment and regeneration scrutiny committee.

Cllr Gary Heather (Lab, Finsbury Park) said 150 trees have been planted in his ward with the help of the council’s tree officer.

His colleague Cllr Clare Jeapes (Lab, Canonbury) said there can be opposing views of trees.  She recounted how one resident complained about “the safety hazard” of produce from a tree whilst another resident proudly showed a bag full of fruits from the tree.

Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) pointed out: “We are going to need our mature trees to provide shade and shelter to protect residents from heat stroke.”

She said this would be crucial given the climate change emergency.