Why urban trees matter!

70'sHave any of you been watching the brilliant BBC programme The 70’s? A really thought provoking series that came home for me quite literally, when they featured Hyson Green’s ‘streets in the sky’ in Nottingham. Why? Well, my mum grew up there in the early 60’s just as these social experiments in housing were being built. She saw first hand its decline into the ‘ghetto’ with the highest crime rate in England.

Grim film footage held by the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) gives a fascinating insight into how society breaks down in a world without trees. With nowhere to experience nature it was a bleak and unloved place. People too scared to leave their homes because children of 10 and 11 years old ran in gangs. A conversation with the Curate of the Parish – an ex-con with a big heart for people struggling to survive – makes the valuable point: over 700 flats had no access to gardens! He explains that children were given ‘concrete to play in’. As the camera pans across the estate you spot a few dead trees – that’s it!

Digging deep into MACE’s interview archives you will discover the people forced to live there repeating the question – why are we made to live in a place with no garden?

Hyson Green, Nottingham 1978 – News Footage ATV

It is worth remembering that this was England only 40 years ago. And that it doesn’t look that different to the image I blogged about a few months ago in North Korea. We cannot be complacent when it comes to planning and the value of our green places and spaces. To climb a tree or sit beneath its branches for a natter with your mates should be a given. The recent report by RIBA (Royal Institute for British Architects) reiterates this.

Hyson Green

20 years later this estate was razed to the ground and is now a supermarket. This final picture shows not a single space across the landscape for a tree to be planted. We must never, ever go back to this.

About Nikki Williams

Head of Campaigning for the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Climate Change, England, Health, Local Government and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why urban trees matter!

  1. Pingback: Trees in the Townscape – 12 guiding principles for urban trees | Woodland Matters

  2. city green says:

    Hi Nikki,

    This city looks terrible without trees and Ruth thanks for commenting as it was very interesting to know that why city without trees encourage crime. I am wondering why in 70’s people are not aware of the benefits of tree or they ignoring it and now we have to pay for it.

    Regards,
    Brenda.

  3. Ruth says:

    I haven’t seen the programme, thank for highlighing it, looks interesting. Also heard in yesterday’s or today’s news that over 25% of crimes are committed by under 18 year old – shocking. I believe we need more than just trees and green space provision alone, we need quality and accessibility. Also many children seem to have forgotten or have never be shown to play imaginatively (intergenerational learning), having a limited view and not seeing the colours and textures of the world around them. Out of my window probably from a typical village, I see them children walking to and from school bus with their heads in the phones. Or as my neighbours kids are completely latch key, playing with no constructive supervision. Keep reminding us of what is good about our green spaces and trees.

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