The ballot count was delayed increasing the tension last night, but after a hard-fought, indeed sometimes bitter and personal, battle, Boris Johnson has been successfully re-elected for a second term as Mayor of London.
Thanks to the hundreds of Trust members and supporters who contacted the seven Mayoral candidates over the last four weeks.
The Mayor is able to influence retention and planting of trees during development, with a specific policy in the London Plan (Policy 7.21). The policy also refers to the influential London Tree and Woodland Framework, published by the previous Mayor and endorsed by the current Mayor. Also, I look forward to seeing the GLA’s final “Supplementary Planning Guidance“ on Preparing Borough Tree and Woodland Strategies document, following our comments on the consultation draft. The Mayor can also choose to fund initiatives such as the street trees project, which provided £4million for 10,000 new street trees across London over the last 4 years.
These are some of the reasons we thought it was worth our supporters finding out what the Mayoral candidates (and through them their colleagues standing as London Assembly Members) would do in the next four years for trees and woodland in London. While not an obvious one to be given priority, we see it as an important issue that cuts across several priorities, such as health, the economy, wellbeing, flooding and climate change, and more.
The responses they got back are summarised here - the candidates who did reply went beyond what was in their published manifestos so clearly had to think about their response!
Boris’ 9-Point Plan had a clear commitment to plant 20,000 more street trees, and in his manifesto Boris promised to provide a £6m budget for this. During his campaign, he also pledged to increase tree cover from 20% to 25% by 2025, with another 400,000 trees planted over the next four years. Now it’s all about the reality of those pledges! As there is no clear funding for the latter, we suspect this will be delivered through the RE:LEAF partnership, which includes the Woodland Trust.
In Boris’ last term, the Greater London Authority funded 57 of our community tree packs resulting in the planting of 11,000 trees, and we are working closely with the GLA to plant many more trees in London this winter.
So, we will hold Boris to his pledges and continue to work as part of the RE:LEAF partnership to get more trees planted in London. We will also push to ensure London’s existing woodland and trees of special interest are protected and properly managed.
I also hope Boris will work rapidly to reinstate the previous Mayor’s Wildweb website which listed and gave access details of all of London’s protected wildlife sites, including woodlands, or at least pass the data to VisitWoods, so that all Londoners can easily find out the location of their nearest woods.
What do you think this result will mean for your treescapes and wooded spaces?
Richard Barnes, Conservation Adviser (and Londoner)