The council has begun to plant 700 extra trees on the borough’s streets each year until 2023 as part of a drive to improve local air quality.
Priority will be given to areas with existing poor air quality, and the first three new trees were planted this week in Norwich Road, Thornton Heath. Around another 250 will be planted within the coming months, and the remainder of this year’s batch, each of which will start at around three metres high, will be placed next winter.
Each new tree planted as part of this programme will help to reduce the local environment’s levels of harmful pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide by trapping toxins on the surfaces of their leaves.
The £180,000 yearly planting programme will include trees such as cherry, plane, maple and other ornamental species, with a particular focus on introducing more trees in northern and central wards with higher pollution levels. Other tree locations that will be considered include road junctions across the borough with higher pollution levels, as well as sites requested by local councillors and residents.
The council has also recently appointed a new tree planting officer, whose job will involve co-ordinating where to put the 3,500 new trees, from main roads to residential streets, as well as maintaining and keeping them healthy. Croydon has around 32,000 trees on local streets alone, ranging from maple and birch to pear and lime trees.
The council invested in the new trees budget as part of an overall £1 million drive to meet the borough’s latest five-year air quality action plan that was approved in November. This also includes cutting the use of diesel engines on Croydon’s streets among council staff and private businesses, more electric car charging points, and continuing the Clean Air 4 Schools project.
“Planting thousands of new trees in the next few years will make Croydon’s local environment less polluted and more attractive, and this is just one of 50 steps we are taking to improve air quality in our borough.”
Councillor Stuart King, cabinet member for transport and environment
Earlier this month, local councillors and residents in South Norwood also planted 25 new trees in Enmore Road that was part-funded by a £5,000 Greener City Fund grant from the Mayor of London.