The City of Bristol will vote for its first ever directly elected Mayor on November 15th – in what offers an unrivalled opportunity for Bristolians to ensure that trees and woodland are on the agenda for the successful candidate.
Here at the Woodland Trust, we strongly believe that trees and woods play a crucial role in supporting communities and creating places where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time. Despite the squeeze on public and private finance, trees and woods offer real value for money and can even reduce expenditure particularly in an urban environment – as shown in our Trees & Turf? publication. The recent Trees in the Townscape guide produced by the Trees & Design Action Group (TDAG) emphasises this with a wide range of compelling case studies, commenting: ‘Trees make places work, look and feel better’. And as we all continue to grapple with issues like climate change, flood management, air quality and growing public health issues, the importance of planting and protecting trees and woodland has never been more vital.
To help candidates realise all these benefits, and to help our supporters find out more about their plans, we’ve suggested these three key questions to ask candidates:
- Bristol’s fragmented and irreplaceable ancient woodland does not currently have absolute protection under the City’s existing planning policies. How will the candidate improve this?
- The City Council has an aspiration to increase Bristol’s tree canopy cover (currently just 14%) to 30%. How will the candidate secure the additional funding and delivery mechanisms required to achieve this?
- An adopted Trees and Woods Strategy for Bristol is required in order to better protect and expand Bristol’s native woodland. Will the candidate support the funding and delivery of this?
The Bristol electorate can ask candidates these questions directly at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/bristolmayor. Or they could ask the candidates themselves when they are out canvassing and at local hustings.
(Update November 14th: Thanks to everyone who took part, voting day is Thursday 15th – our action is now closed.)
And it’s not just the Woodland Trust that is talking about the natural environment in the Bristol Mayoral elections. For example, the ‘Wild Mayor‘ campaign, consisting of the Avon Wildlife Trust, RSPB, National Trust, CPRE, as well as the Woodland Trust – with a combined membership in Bristol of over 100,000 people – has set out 5 key pledges for mayoral candidates to sign up to in order to embed nature in their plans for the city’s future.
Also, the independent ‘Bristol Manifesto‘ website is collecting everyone’s 3 wishes for Bristol to pass on to the candidates, and offers another great chance to raise the protection and expansion of native woodland further up the Bristol agenda.
So if you are eligible to vote for the first elected Bristol Mayor, you will have plenty of opportunity to quiz the candidates before election day – not just on why you should vote for them, but also what they can do for Bristol’s trees!
Justin Milward, Regional and Local Government Officer (South West)