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York’s Tree Canopy to expand for next 30 years

Published Wednesday, 28 April 2021

City of York Council’s Climate Change Policy and Scrutiny Committee have proposed to expand York’s tree canopy to achieve 13% coverage by 2050, approximately increasing tree population by 10,000/year.

A report will be taken to a Decision Session for the Executive Member for Environment and Climate Change on 5 May 2021. It proposes to Increase York’s tree cover from the current 10.76% of total area to 13% (national average) by 2050, as the council creates a greener, cleaner city for its residents and visitors.

This expansion will be around 22-27 hectares each year which equates to an area of over 30 football pitches. Alternatively, the city would be well on its way to reaching this expansion target if every household in York which had space, either in a garden, allotment or park, planted just one tree.

The target would result in more carbon dioxide (CO2) being removed from the atmosphere and stored in the trees. This absorbing of the harmful pollutant across the city is equivalent to around 1% of the regions total CO2 emissions between 2020-2050.

Achieving 21 hectares of tree planting every year in York would result in the annual removal of 1-2% of the estimated regional emissions in 2038, after most of our carbon-neutral initiatives have been implemented. This would increase to remove 8-15% of remaining emissions in 2050.

This initiative forms one of the many priorities which will contribute to the city’s Climate Change Strategy which will be published this Autumn, and is one of the many tactics being implemented to achieve city-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Climate Change said;

“To become a carbon neutral city we need to make the most of every tool at our disposal and I’m pleased to see that the expansion of our city’s Tree Canopy will help us catch up to the national average and contribute to our goal to make our city’s carbon emissions net-zero by 2030.

“The ever changing landscape of York offers us the opportunity to reduce the CO2 in our atmosphere as well as to create a healthier and happier environment that we can all enjoy. Increasing the biodiversity of our city is a key priority in our response to the Climate Emergency and this also contributes to our management of flood risks, use of public space and creation of green jobs across the city.”

As a member of the White Rose Forest Partnership, a local authority joint venture hosted by Kirklees Council, City of York Council is working to:

  • increase tree coverage across York
  • improve access to green space for citizens
  • enhance wildlife habitats and biodiversity
  • address climate change through carbon sequestration (or absorption)

Read the full report for latest initiative in York’s journey to carbon-neutrality.

As part of the ongoing work across the city to improve biodiversity, City of York Council is creating an extensive community woodland on 194-acres of land to the West of York with the ambition to plant 50,000 trees by 2023. After extensive assessment of the land, the council are seeking the views of residents and local organisations on plans and opportunities for the woodland. The council will then use the feedback it receives to make recommendations to the Executive about:

  • A final ‘community owned’ woodland vision
  • The final woodland design plan
  • How residents and local groups can be actively involved in creating the woodland
  • How people can be involved in the woodland’s ongoing management

Find out more about the community woodland and have you say before 19 May 2021.