Tree Wardens in Wirral have achieved a major victory for the borough’s trees by getting a Wirral Tree Strategy adopted with all-party support.
The strategy, which acknowledges the wide-ranging value of trees and also the importance of trees to the climate emergency, commits to increase tree cover in the borough to at least 10% within ten years. The strategy also commits the Council to planting at least two trees for every tree that it fells for safety reasons.
Wirral Tree Wardens brought together a network of wildlife, conservation, environmental and heritage groups to produce a series of policy papers. These were shaped together with the Borough Council to create the Strategy. The Tree Council was proud to support this process, including working with David Ellwand and others to bring a wide range of local stakeholders together to discuss trees at the North of England Forum in October 2019.
Wirral Tree Wardens attribute their success to their approach of working closely with others. “Wirral Tree Wardens have always operated as a series of collaborations with wildlife, friends groups for parks and woodlands, conservation volunteers, environmental and civic societies.” Says Wirral Tree Warden Coordinator David Ellwand. “Over time The Tree Wardens had built up a relationship as “critical friend” to the local authority, from which it is independent. Together the groups formed Wirral Initiative Trees (WiT) :a network to help a working group write a policy that brought together examples of best practice.”
Wirral Council not only approved the Strategy with all-party support, but it has created an advisory board of council and non-council representatives to oversee progress against it, which Wirral Tree Wardens have been invited to be part of. Additionally, and vitally, the scrutiny panel of the Council proposed that the advice of the strategy be ‘a material consideration’ in planning applications in Wirral.
“We are delighted to have been part of the development of the Wirral Tree Strategy. The Strategy has been created by a unique partnership between the local authority, Tree Wardens and other community partners, and local and national tree organisations. It sets a model for the development of other tree strategies and will be a valuable contribution to thinking about national tree policies. We look forward to working with all the partners in the future as the strategy is used to create a tree-rich environment for the people and wildlife of the Wirral.”Sara Lom, CEO, The Tree Council
Wirral Tree Wardens were also involved in promoting the new strategy to residents, further raising awareness of the importance of having a clear, ambitious, living strategy for trees, hedgerows and woodlands.
The Strategy came into force on 5 August. You can read the Wirral Tree Strategy on the Wirral Council website.
A big bravo from all at The Tree Council to Wirral Tree Wardens for this fantastic achievement. If you would like to hear more from Wirral Tree Wardens on how they made this happen and how you can do the same in your area, let us know!