Why are trees so important? As well as actively fighting Climate Change by removing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it, trees also reduce surface flooding and run off (which helps soil conservation) and can moderate extreme temperatures. These are benefits that we will increasingly depend on as the climate changes. They help the biodiversity crisis too by providing natural habitats for many species. But the benefits don’t stop there. Trees actively improve our quality of life through reducing air pollution, reducing noise pollution and encouraging outdoor recreation, which all contribute to the improved health and wellbeing of our communities.
For all of these reasons, protecting and enhancing the trees in our District is very important, and below you will find a summary of some of the recent work Rother District Council and our partners have undertaken to monitor, maintain and improve our local tree cover.
In February 2021, social enterprise Treeconomics, who work with community groups and public bodies to highlight the value of trees, began developing an Urban Forest Masterplan for Bexhill. This used ‘i-Tree Eco’, a software application which quantifies the structure and environmental effects of urban trees and calculates their value to society. The final report, Urban Forest 1066, was published in August 2022. This sets out the existing number, type and condition of trees in Bexhill.
The report shows that Bexhill has approximately 228,000 trees of 81 different species, with the potential to trap and remove over 53 tonnes of air pollution annually at a value of nearly £1.5 million.
In July 2021, the Council teamed up with national charity Trees for Cities through their Forgotten Places project and received £143,000 of funding through the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund to increase tree cover in Bexhill. Based on the findings of the Urban Forest 1066 report, Treeconomics developed a Tree Planting Strategy for Bexhill, which was published in February 2023.
The Forgotten Places Project community tree planting events which by February 2023 had resulted in the planting of 1500 whips at Bexhill Down, 38 trees at Sidley Rec and 9 trees at Southlands Open Space.
Trees for Cities have planted over 200 trees of varying species on Bexhill highway verges by Spring 2023 with funding from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and other supporters. The trees were carefully selected to survive and thrive in a coastal climate, which is often saltier and windier than in-land climates in the UK. Around 100 more street trees are due to be planted in Autumn / Winter 2023.
Funding for Community Tree Planting Projects
If you are a community group looking to deliver a tree planting project, applications for funding can be made to the Council’s Community Grants Scheme. We were pleased to award to Bexhill Environmental Group £1500 in September 2020 to complete tree planting at Galley Hill and would welcome further applicants.
Schools and Community Groups can also apply to the Woodland Trust for free trees for planting in November 2023. Free Trees for Schools and Communities – Woodland Trust