Dear Friend of Bristol’s Trees - You may have heard of the £90m of budget cuts to Bristol City Council. We have now been able to analyse how we think it may impact trees. There is an opportunity for you to comment on this
and we would be grateful if you did please because enough informed comments might modify the actual budget and/or create a long term plan. Comments must be in by 30th Dec (see details at the bottom).
(i) Cuts: The Tree Dept. budget will be cut by £300k/year by 2015, we think this is about 30% down from an already reduced budget. This will halt all tree planting everywhere (except the PiPS program see iii below) , it will reduce the care for new trees, so more will die, it will mean more tree stumps appear on the pavements, it will reduce tree maintenance so for example pollarding of street trees will be less frequent and inevitably there will be a loss of some specialist staff.
(ii) The services that remain: these will, we think, be just enough for pruning to keep a tree safe, and felling if it is dangerous (whereas it may have been pruned before), removal of obstructions (e.g. low level growth and repair of lifting pavements), Tree Preservation Orders and Planning. Basically anything the Council is required to do by Law.
(iii) New: Over the next couple of years there will be tree planting as part of Bristol’s PiPS (Planting in Primary Schools) program which is designed to plant many thousands of small trees, a proportion of which will be fruit trees, in schools or near schools but importantly by the children themselves in combination with an educational support. We do support this PiPS scheme as long as it is a mix of tree species and doesn’t stop any private planting initiatives.
(iv) Any other tree planting or indeed saving existing parks trees (veterans for example) will need to be funded privately or via developer contributions which come in when trees are felled to build on a site.
The TreeForum’s stance is as follows:
Whilst the Mayor has taken away with one hand and given some back with the other, he has left some major weaknesses in the long term and trees are a long term issue.
(i) We don’t see any money to nurture the new PiPS trees. We expect some watering is to be done by the public, but the rest will be left to fend for themselves so many will die. There could be lots of unhappy school children in 2017.
(ii) The Mayor continued the pledge of the previous administration to increase the urban tree canopy, “to double it within a generation” he said. (Studies show a city needs nearly 30% green cover to mitigate the climate change effects of heat and flooding). The PIPS program is planting small trees and these will have a modest canopy % effect and possibly not even offset canopy loss from other activity.
(iii) And in 2016/17 there seems to be a funding cliff of approx. £400k/year as PiPS ends. £300k is our estimate of what will be needed to bring tree management back to a sustainable level, replace the dead ones and manage the existing stock, plus another £100k to be able to plant and water new trees. We think it will be very difficult for any new Mayor to justify such an increase on a further squeezed budget.
We think this lack of long term planning is irresponsible. We hope you will register comments to this effect and encourage the setting up of a long term funding scheme.
Thank you – Clive Stevens – Chair Bristol TreeForum
PS: To comment on the tree budget:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/bristolbudget
(closes 30th Dec)
N.B. To get to trees you need to go through a few pages first and get to commenting on specific categories, you need the second category. The first category is “Which proposal for improving business efficiency” so you move on by ticking “go to the next category” which is “Which proposal for changing how we fund and provide services”. Bring up the drop down menu and half way down the list is “review tree planting and maintenance service R-PL-012” select this and comment please.