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London tree projects recognised for boosting air quality

Tree planting projects were recognised by the London Mayor at the annual RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Awards

A number of tree planting and protection projects designed to boost greenery and air quality in the capital have been recognised by London Mayor Boris Johnson at the annual RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Awards at City Hall.

The awards, supported by the Mayor and the Forestry Commission, are part of London’s first Tree Week from May 11-18 and celebrate the community groups, businesses and individuals who have ‘promoted and enhanced the conservation and management of trees and woodlands in London over the last year’.

The awards took place at London's City Hall this week

The awards took place at London’s City Hall this week

This year’s winners included the Friends of South Hill Wood and Kingswood Glen for revitalising neglected woodland around Bromley and the W1W Tree Planting Initiative to increase tree cover around Marylebone.

The Balfour Street Resident’s Group, the Environmental Action Network and Forestbank were also recognised for their work to protect trees in Southwark during housing estate regeneration.

The presentation ceremony was attended by the Mayor’s environment advisor Matthew Pencharz, Forestry Commission chairman Sir Harry Studholme, and BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Trees and greenery are essential to maintaining London’s status as the best big city in the world. They provide shade, improve air quality and make London a more attractive place to live, work and do business in. Thanks to the tremendous hard work of thousands of volunteers, community groups and local businesses the capital is getting leafier by the year.â€?

Tree Week

Created by the Mayor’s RE:LEAF partnership, Tree Week has been designed to get more Londoners involved in caring for their local trees and woodlands. Events during this week include free tree health demonstrations in Hyde Park, training sessions on orchard planting, ancient tree trails and woodland walks. Trees outside the Garden Museum in Lambeth are also set to be ‘yarn bombed’ – a style of urban knitting street art.

The Mayor’s RE:LEAF programme aims to create opportunities for Londoners, businesses and local communities to help protect  London’s trees and increase the capital’s tree cover from 20% to 25% by 2025.

The programme includes the £300,000 RE:LEAF community grant scheme to support tree and woodland projects and initiatives with by awarding funding of between £2,000 and £10,000 for any organisation or group representing the wider community.

Last year the scheme saw 750 volunteers help to plant 2,500 trees in projects across 16 London boroughs, while plans are underway to plant a further 10,000 new street trees by 2015, according to the Mayor’s office.

A £100,000 funding application period for the grant scheme opened in May 13 and closes on August 16. More information about the scheme is available on the scheme’s website.

Forestry Commission chairman, Sir Harry Studholme, said: “For centuries London’s trees have added shade and elegance to the city. Today their complex role in mitigating the effects of a changing climate makes them even more important. And yet, when we need them most, the trees themselves have seldom been under such unrelenting threat. The projects and people that have won awards tonight are an inspiration and give confidence that the capital’s trees are in good hands.â€?

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