Leaf it out! Tree pledge is just hype’

PUBLISHED: 11:35 12 November 2009 | UPDATED: 17:19 25 August 2010

A GREEN party member called the Mayor s tree planting outrageous hype after revealing a tree deficit. Figures released by London Assembly member Darren Johnson show a net loss of 328 trees on Mayor Boris Johnson s Transport for London (TfL) network fro

A GREEN party member called the Mayor's tree planting "outrageous hype" after revealing a tree deficit.

Figures released by London Assembly member Darren Johnson show a net loss of 328 trees on Mayor Boris Johnson's Transport for London (TfL) network from 2008 to 2009.

TfL is one of the organisations involved in planting 10,000 trees over a four-year period in line with the Mayor's election pledge. Bromley is to get funding to plant 196 new trees and Bexley 208.

The Mayor has estimated that London will need around two million trees by 2025 in order to mitigate 'urban heat island effect'.

Darren Johnson said: "Whilst I support any scheme that encourages more trees in London, the data provided by the Mayor has shown that on his own Transport for London controlled roads more trees are being removed than are being planted.

"This is pretty outrageous and in stark contrast to the hype we have seen from Boris Johnson about planting more trees."

The Green Party member added: "The Mayor has benefited from being seen as a tree champion, but his direct contribution to fund 10,000 trees makes up only a fraction of one percent of what is required to meet the target of two million trees by 2025."

A spokesman for the Mayor's office said: "Far from being 'hype', the Mayor’s street trees scheme is firmly planted in reality. Only this week, the Mayor announced that 4,000 new trees are being planted across 20 boroughs. Many organisations have a responsibility to help London meet its target of planting two million trees and the Mayor is putting his money where his mouth is, pledging efficiency savings to plant 10,000 street trees in the capital by 2012.

"TfL has made it clear that it is not always possible to replant trees when they have been felled due to disease, damage, old age or safety reasons. TfL always tries to replace these trees but this is not always possible because of soil conditions, water or electricity pipes underground or in circumstances where the tree has grown from seed in an unsafe location."

During his election drive the Mayor said efficiency savings would be ploughed into 10,000 street trees to improve Londoners' quality of life. This is the second round of planting, building on the award of cash for the 1,500 trees planted in ten boroughs earlier this year.

The second batch of trees will be planted in Bexley between November and spring next year. Financial grants are now being offered to organisations to plant trees in the 20 boroughs.

The street tree programme is managed by the Forestry Commission and is an expansion of their existing London Tree and Woodland Grant Scheme. Phase three of funding will start in April 2010.

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