Blundering councils spend millions on trees they forgot to check and may be dead

Taxpayers have forked out more than £11million to plant trees that may already be dead.

At least 80 councils have planted trees to help with climate change since 2015 – but not bothered going back and making sure they are still alive.

Others have reported survival rates well below the expected 90 to 95 per cent.

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Some projects have resulted in no living trees at all, sparking fears they were run by staff lacking necessary skills.

Andy Egan, of the Woodland Trust, said: “Too many local authorities lack the additional resources and capacity needed to look after newly-planted trees to help them survive conditions like the drought we had this summer.”

The government pledged more than £9million last year to plant hundreds of thousands of trees across England.

Ministers hope to create 30,000 hectares of new woodland annually around the UK by 2025.

But the Woodland Trust, which provides funding for council tree-planting schemes, called for long-term investment to back up the grants.

Alan added: “The Woodland Trust is calling on Government to use its Environmental Improvement Plan to ensure the long-term investment that’s needed to protect and care for our urban trees is in place.”

Under the Environmental Improvement Plan, the government will have to file an annual report on improvements to the natural environment. Campaigners hope it will encourage tree planting schemes to keep more accurate records.

According to new figures, more than a quarter of UK councils have no idea how many trees have survived from planting schemes dating back to 2015.

They include the Greater London Authority, which has spent £6million on 430,000 trees since 2016.

A spokesman said recipients were required to replace any dead trees within three years, leading to even greater expense.

Brighton and Hove has spent more £400,000 planting hundreds of trees in a bid to help them become carbon neutral by 2030, but does not have records of their survival.

In another scheme started last May in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, just 10 per cent of 6,500 trees are thought to have survived. Conservationist Charlie Gardner, from the University of Kent, said they were planted at the wrong time of year.

He added: “I was shocked to see the state of it, I couldn’t believe how bad a job they’d done. Planting in May is madness anyway, but they could at least have made sure they planted the roots properly.”

This comes after OnePoll figures earlier this year showed that over a quarter Brits would rather talk about sustainabiity and climate change than reality TV shows.

The figures also revealed that 27 per cent of adults in the UK would rather talk about sustainability than football.


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