While there was recognition of the value of green spaces and parks before Covid-19, the pandemic has brought the importance of good quality green space to the fore. Open green spaces are increasingly important viewed against the backdrop of a changing climate. Urban greening is an essential way of moderating harsh climates at a local level. 

Problem 

Green space is recognised as a vital infrastructure for communities. Green spaces are not only important for social reasons but important to mitigate heat stress, flood risk, noise pollution, restore nature and offset carbon [1].  

However, the Friends of the Earth report, ‘England’s Green Space Gap’, identified the correlation between green space deprivation, income and race. The report found that 40% of England’s Black, Asian Minority communities live in the most green-space deprived areas, compared to 20% of White people [1]. Bristol was listed as one of the 50 priority council areas with the greatest number of green space-deprived neighbourhoods [1].  

The Bristol Tree Forum was set up as a ‘voluntary organisation dedicated to promoting the planting and preservation of trees in the public spaces of Bristol’ [2]. The organisation argued that trees were important to the residents of the city, creating attractive public spaces, having environmental benefits and improving physical and mental wellbeing [2]. 

Solution  

Bristol’s One City Plan, launched in January 2019, lays out a 30-year vision of what Bristolians want for their city [3]. Mayor Marvin Reeds said the aim is to create “an inclusive, sustainable city that both breaks down our social fractures and inequalities and reaches carbon neutrality” [3]. The plan includes doubling the tree canopy by 2046, doubling wildlife abundance by 2050, and City-wide carbon neutrality by 2030 [4]. 

The Replant Bristol initiative was launched by the Forest of Avon Trust, Bristol City Council, and the Bristol Tree Forum to contribute to the targets set by the One City Plan. The group launched a campaign, One Tree Per Employee, to encourage Bristol’s businesses to buy trees for the 250,000 employees in the city [5]. Replant Bristol extended their campaign further through the options to: 

  • Sponsor Street or Park Trees. Individuals, organisations or communities can sponsor a tree. Street Trees are a great option as they have an immediate impact on neighbourhoods, ‘providing shade, reducing pollution and enhancing amenity from the time it is planted’ [5]. Furthermore, they can ‘increase your house value by 3 to 7%’ [6] 
  • Offer land for tree planting. Replant Bristol matches anyone holding land that is suitable for tree planting sites with funding for donated trees
  • Buy trees for employees to plant in their gardens. This scheme allows employers to buy a tree for their employees directly from the Bristol City Council’s nursery
  • Woodland Trust packs for schools. Replant Bristol has partnered with the Woodland Trust to provide tree packs for schools and communities to plant together. These tree packs are funded by national organisations such as Lloyds Bank, Sainsbury’s and Joules
  • Volunteering. The programme has received a huge amount of interest [5]. Volunteers help plant sponsored trees. They also have the option to become a tree champion to raise any concerns about trees in their local area [5]

Friends of the Earth argue: 

‘Greening cities does not depend on creating dedicated spaces. It can also mean recognising that there can be enormous potential in overlooked and unloved places in the neighbourhood that can be transformed by a creative solution to a different problem.’ [1] 

[1] friendsoftheearth.uk. 2020. England’s green space gap. 

Indeed, the Replant Bristol scheme provides a creative solution to improve the city for all communities while contributing positively to Bristol’s One City Plan. This case study provides a great framework that could be adapted and replicated in other towns and cities.  

Sources: 

[1] friendsoftheearth.uk. 2020. England’s green space gap. [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

[2] bristoltreeforum.org. Bristol City Development – Where did all the Green go? [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

[3] takeclimateaction.uk. 2019. Bristol’s One City Plan to Create an Urban Forest [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

[4] bristolonecity.com. Carbon Neutrality [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

[5] forestofavontrust.org. Replant Bristol. [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

[6] forestofavontrust.org. Bristol’s Green Streets.  [online] [Accessed 06/05/21]

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