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Trees can represent the green shoots of economic recovery in the West Midlands

todayJuly 8, 2021

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Planting trees and other efforts to recover natural destruction have a considerable role in getting the country to Net Zero and bringing a range of other benefits, including creating good green jobs, boosting the economy and even cutting crime, says new research published by UK100.

At an international summit to be co-hosted by UK100 and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, next week (13 July), mayors and local leaders will call on the government to devolve further powers on energy, transport and housing to meet their Net Zero ambitions.

The group will argue that a clear target must be added to the Environment Bill to reverse the decline in species and habitats by 2030 supported by the appropriate resourcing of Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

Andy Street said: “We know just how critical tree planting is to tackling the climate emergency here in the West Midlands, which is why we’ve embarked on our ambitious virtual forest plans to plant a tree for every resident across the West Midlands. Now we know that not only will this help the environment, but also our economy as well.”

Researchers have shown that 25 jobs are created for every 100 hectares of woodland restored during the restoration phase. Increasing woodland would support 24,600 jobs across the West Midlands.

In particular, retail and hospitality businesses can benefit from such interventions, sectors that the pandemic has affected more significantly than most. Shoppers are willing to go shopping more frequently, travel further and visit for longer times in shopping areas with pleasant tree cover.

Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100, said, “Money really does grow on trees! Planting trees isn’t just good for our environment; it’s good for the economy – helping businesses to recover from the pandemic. It is also a way to address environmental inequalities and level up the UK.”

Poorer areas often have lower canopy cover and are disproportionately affected by other environmental issues such as air pollution. Research conducted in London found that tree canopy cover ranges from 58% to 2% across the city’s 633 local wards.

The summit will be attended by more than 30 local leaders, including mayors Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham and a host of other leading figures from across the country, to discuss an enhanced partnership with the government in Westminster to move towards Net-Zero.

The conference will feature an address by Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles, and involve an international networking session with participants from cities worldwide, including Tokyo, Melbourne and Buenos Aires.

Written by: David Watkins

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