Richmond Council announced today (Tuesday, August 24) they were committing to "nearly £1 million" in funding for planting new trees in the borough.

The initiative forms part of the council's plan to combat the climate emergency which it recognized along with more than 200 other local authorities in recent years.

The council's announcement follows what they called an "extensive recent survey" of trees across the borough by the Council’s Parks team, taking into account a number of locations where trees have been removed over the past 10 years.

"Over 490 sites have been identified following the survey and the Council is now committing nearly £1 million to allow for replanting and associated pavement repairs at these locations. The Council will complete these restoration works over the next three financial years with 325 replacement trees being planted in the next tree planting season, starting in November 2021. In total this programme of work will result in the replanting of trees in 800 locations," a statement published on the council website Tuesday read.

The statement added that the news follows council efforts to plant some 570 trees in the previous 2020-21 season, the highest number in a decade in the borough.

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Services Committee, said:

"I am delighted that we are able to prioritise this extensive tree replanting programme as part of our climate emergency work. Sustainable tree planting forms an important part of Richmond Council’s Climate Emergency Strategy. The tree maintenance programme can require the removal of certain trees if they are diseased or dying and pose a significant risk to the safety of the public. However, removal of trees is a last resort. This new planting programme will include replanting at sites where trees have been removed and where tree planting could mitigate the effects of climate change."

The news was also praised by Extinction Rebellion Richmond, who are supporting the group's two-weeks of civil disobedience in central London at the moment.

Clinical Psychologist and 'XR Richmond Rebel' Dr Elanor Lewis-Holmes said:

"We’re really pleased about Richmond Council’s tree planting programme and commend their approach of preserving mature trees whenever possible. More native UK trees in our neighbourhoods will help improve air quality, increase habitats for wild creatures, reduce flooding and provide shade as the world gets hotter."

The doctor added that more needed to be done to reduce carbon emissions urgently beyond tree planting: "Trees, along with many other plants, help take CO2 out of the atmosphere, but we need to massively decrease the amount that is being added as well. To prevent the worst climate outcomes, the UK government must immediately stop funding and approving fossil fuel projects, which is why we are rebelling in the streets of London over the next two weeks," she said.