Posted by: Mike Grenville | 9 April 2009

The Man Who Wants To Plant Trees

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If a few transition communities took tree planting seriously it could quickly add up to a lot of tree planting with many Climate Change and local resilience benefits.

Ron Wiener from Transition Chapel Allerton in Leeds calculated that if 40 cities planted 2,500 trees a year that would equal a million trees over about 10 years.

With Leeds preparing a tree strategy, Ron organised a meeting with one of the arboreal officers with Leeds City Council to explore possible sites for tree planting as part of a climate change strategy.

It turns out that North East Leeds for example has a lot of sites where tree planting is feasible. However choosing sites for new trees needs careful investigation to avoid root growth into underground pipes and cables and liason is needed with many departments and other bodies that have an interest in different sites.

From a resilience point of view planting trees that produce food such as fruit trees would make sense. However this is not without its challenges as these trees can be subject to vandalism in an urban environment and the uncollected fruit can cause problems.

The main challenge is that the Council has little money available for trees and their maintenance. As there so often is, there are many ways to solve such challenges and a number of ways are being looked at to provide the needed funds and trees. These include collaborating with other groups with an interest in tree planting and approaching local Councillors in each area to see if they might have funds as well as potentially organising specfic fund raising events.

Many schools have a lot of space that could carry trees and this could be tied in with a school seed project. However because of

Nearly 30 years ago, Wangari Maathai began organizing women in Kenya with the idea that by planting trees, the women would improve both the environment and their livelihoods. Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work she said that “When planting your tree, think about how even small acts can have significant results and how each one of us can help bring peace into our troubled world,”
the risk from children with nut allergies, nut trees are likely to be avoided on school grounds.



  1. Hi Ron,

    What you’re saying is music to my ears. Brilliant idea! My long assocn with trees and the pain I feel for the Planet with our massive deforestation across the Tropics convinced me long ago of the importance of what Wangari started in the 1970s.

    Was wondering, are you aware of Trees for Cities ( and

    In recent email they said “The Tree-Athlon events are the flagship fundraising events for Trees for Cities and will be held in London ( Battersea Park , Saturday 19th September), Leeds ( Temple Newsam , Sunday 27th September) and Manchester ( Heaton Park , Sunday 4th October).” (And they are advertising a paid post to run this programme.)

    They’re a great bunch and have some years experience with the regs and bureaucracy. They’ve put lots of trees in at Wormwood Scrubs in West London close to our Portobello North Ken London Transinitiative. Go well, Hugh

  2. Friends of the Earth Sierra Leone is an environmental organbisation and is active on Waste Management, forest conservation,environmental awareness and protection of endagered plant and animal. The organisation has established Tree Nurseries and is educating the locals about the role of trees in soil conservation is upgrading its nuseries in local communities.
    Many thanks. I look forward to your perusal reply.

    Olatunde Johnson, Executive Director.
    Friends of the Earth Sierra Leone,
    P.M.BAG 950, 33 Robert Street,
    Freetown,Sierra Leone.

  3. Might I make 2 suggestions – first a key USP for trees in urban areas is that they are natures own self powered air conditioning units – why does everyone go to the park on a sunny day – because the trees and other vegetation is working away cooling down the air – through the immense chunk used in the latent heat of evapouration of the water. A few trees in the street or the office car park and you begine to make the place a lot more pleasant on a how day, and equally introduce capacity to absorb water run-off, and for evergreens especially keep the frost off paths and ground in winter.

    All this and (as I remember our suburban London street) the beauty of blossom in spring from the trees now long gone to provide access onto front gardens for parking (the fallacy here is that the gin of space on your front garden practically matches to loss of a space at the kerbside!

    Second I’d temper the call for trees with a call for shrubs and bushes – Box is a fine slow growing option which can sit close to walls and paved surfaces without the worry of root heave – and the effects are much the same Privet is wonderful and grows a lot faster as well as feeding the wonderful Privet Hawk Moth. And Our Victorian forebears laid out parks and gardens with a wonderful variety which with a few exceptions (Rhodedendron, Japanese Knotweed etc) have settled well in the UK.

    Box has been innovatively used with a building in Berkshire, where the lower trunk is cleared of all branches and the crowns of a row of box trees are pruned ‘square’ to form a linear ‘shade’ which allows the low winter sun to deliver heat when it is wanted but the high summer sun is masked by the high-level foiliage

  4. I’ve scratched the surface on this also. The following web addresses may be useful. For info I’ve copied below the reply to my enquiry relating to TTKingston-upon-Thames from Trees for Cities.

    Hi Brian, Thanks very much for your email and your interest in Trees for Cities. Can I just confirm that TTK is Transition Towns Kingston? Trees for Cities work in deprived inner city areas that are in need of greening. We haven’t had any projects in Kingston but have worked in nearby Morden Park as part of our Capital Woodlands project which aims to protect and improve London’s woodlands. Over 3000 new trees have been planted at Morden and we have run community planting days for local people to get involved. We’ll also be holding a woodland picnic in Morden Park in May 2009. The Million Trees campaign is now linking up with the Mayor’s drive to plant thousands more trees in the capital by 2012. Unfortunately Kingston has not been identified as a priority area but there will be a second round in 2010. You say that you are interested in supporting Trees for Cities projects – could you clarify exactly what you mean? Would you be interested in providing financial support for a planting project? We are always looking for new funding partners to help get new projects up and running. Unfortunately we can’t plan new projects with having funding secured and as you can appreciate it’s a hard time at the moment for everyone so we do not have any planned projects in the Kingston area. There are other ways to get involved with Trees for Cities, one of the easiest to through the London Tree-Athlon which is our fundraising run. This year the event will take place on Saturday 19th September at Battersea Park. Participants run a 5km race, make a tree wish and receive a native tree sapling to take home and plant! It’s a lovely day out for all the family and registration will open in May at You can enter individually or as a team with colleagues and friends. I hope I have answered your questions and look forward to hearing from you. With best wishes Nina Nina De GrooteTree-Athlon and Business Partnerships AssistantTrees for Cities0207 820 441307917 738

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