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Wrexham council values its street trees and so should you

When Wrexham County Borough Council decided to calculate the value of its urban forest, it started down a path to great things. This led to greater appreciation, commitment, planting and protection. Now the council has a tree strategy other councils can learn from.

Why are street trees so important and why should you care?

Street trees are a valuable part of our urban society, but they’re often overlooked. They bring us so many benefits: cleaning the air, cooling our streets, making us feel better and connecting us with nature. When did you last stop to notice them? Find out more about the importance of street trees.

Trees live for such a long time that it’s easy for us to assume they’re just part of the scenery and that they’ll always be there. But that’s not always the case. For lots of reasons trees need to be removed or replaced. It’s important this is done sensibly, with a strategy in mind.

Wrexham's urban trees are valued by residents and the council (Photo: Adrian Ashworth Photography)
Wrexham's urban trees are valued by residents and the council (Photo: Adrian Ashworth Photography)

What is a tree strategy?

A tree strategy is a useful tool that councils can adopt to help manage the trees they’re responsible for. Street trees in particular need careful attention, not least because they are so close to where we spend a lot of our time. If a street tree becomes dangerous, we need to take action to prevent it from causing damage.

We also need to know where there is space to plant more – to get more of those lovely benefits. Lots of councils have strategies in place, but lots don’t. Luckily for the citizens of Wrexham, their council has a great one.

Elton Watson, a tree officer for Wrexham council, assesses street trees (Photo: Philip Formby/WTML)
Elton Watson, a tree officer for Wrexham council, assesses street trees (Photo: Philip Formby/WTML)

Why has Wrexham developed this?

The council decided to adopt a tree strategy so that it can monitor and maintain its tree cover. It wanted to understand what benefits trees provide, and how to make sure it can keep providing them.

Wrexham is a tree friendly town. The council appreciates its tree assets and is committed to protecting them. The tree strategy is a public commitment to doing just that - we’ve seen it, it’s great! That’s why we’re pleased to be working together.

What’s so great about Wrexham’s strategy for maintaining trees?

Firstly, it exists. That’s no mean feat for a council to achieve. Secondly, and most importantly, it’s informed by good science. Wrexham was one of the first places in the UK to use a tool called i-Tree. Surveying trees across the town, and using some very clever software, they worked out what the urban canopy cover does for the environment, including:

- removing pollution

- capturing carbon

- reducing flood risks.

And lots more besides. In fact, this revealed that Wrexham’s trees provide £1.44 million worth of benefits, every year - a good reason to look after them!

One of many tree-lined streets bringing a whole host of benefits to the people of Wrexham (Photo: Adrian Ashworth Photography)
One of many tree-lined streets bringing a whole host of benefits to the people of Wrexham (Photo: Adrian Ashworth Photography)

What can you do to help?

Trees are public assets, so the public should have every opportunity to understand how they're looked after. But tree strategies are technical documents, so it’s not always easy to get to grips with the detail if you’re not a tree specialist. Wrexham’s tree officers recognise this.

And this is where the Woodland Trust comes in. We want to work with the council to help design a version that’s easier for the non-technical audience. The detail will be the same, just with a little less jargon and perhaps a bit more colour.

We want the residents of Wrexham to get involved. We need to find out what people want to know, and how they want information presented. That way we can make sure anything we create is fit for purpose. Share your thoughts with us by emailing streettrees@woodlandtrust.org.uk, or call 0330 333 3300.

Celebrate and protect your precious street trees

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The street trees project is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.