No trees, no future

25 August 2010

As towns and cities become wetter and warmer as a result of climate change, trees are increasingly important to the places where we live. With their numbers in decline, we need to act now to preserve adequate levels of tree coverage.

Chadworth House in Islington, London. Photo by Jane Sebire

Chadworth House in Islington, London. Photo by Jane Sebire

Many of the large, mature canopy trees in our streets and parks are getting old and will need to be replaced soon. To do this effectively there are two challenges we need to overcome.

Trees are getting smaller

Large, mature trees bring more benefit than small ones as they provide more shade, better shelter and catch more rain in their leaf canopies.

Yet large trees are often unjustly perceived to cause a range of problems – from subsidence to blocking out the light – and there is a growing tendency in urban areas to cut mature trees cut down and replace them with smaller, ornamental varieties.

New developments threaten trees

Trees are usually one of the last things that developers think about. By the time they are considered it is often too late to retain any existing mature trees or create an environment suitable for planting new species of large tree.

New trees also take much longer than most development cycles to grow, so even where long term plans are in place there is no guarantee that the planted trees with reach full maturity.

So, what’s the solution?

If we don’t think now about planting new trees now, our towns and cities could become very grey and inhospitable places in the future. These resources can help:

  • No Trees No Future contains advice on integrating trees into new building development and planning. It is published by the Trees and Design Action Group which tries to keep cities green by raising awareness of urban trees and how to care for them.
  • The benefits of urban trees is a presentation from CABE Space which shows how important trees are to our urban landscapes.
  • Managing urban trees and developing a tree strategy provides information about promoting trees as part of streetscape design and considering their long term management.


CABE and Urban Practitioners
with the cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield