100,000 trees for Kingston

The government’s Committee on Climate Change recommends the UK should increase its tree cover from about 13% tree cover on average to 19%, which compares to 30 - 45% typically in Europe. Cardiff intents to boost tree cover to 25%.

For Kingston, 25% tree cover would need about 100,000 extra to improve air quality and wellbeing: suppose 90,000 in parks, gardens, and the grounds of public and commercial buildings and 10,000 extra street trees.

This wouldn't turn Kingston into a forest, but implies filling in: a tree in a small garden which doesn't have one, two in a large garden, and similarly in the grounds of commercial and public buildings, and some more in green spaces.

To achieve this distribution of a large number of trees in small individual plantings commercially would be very expensive. Instead, it could be achieved by an enhanced version of the Mayor of London's initiative to distribute trees for free: with a choice of varieties, and some local input to ensure they were planted appropriately. 

1200 trees a year in each of 15 Kingston wards a year for 5 years would be 90,000 trees. Scout groups and others have offered to grow up saplings and we’re looking to encourage others to get involved.

Please contact us via kingstonedibleforest@gmail.com if

-          you would like a tree in your street and can commit to watering it once a week in the first two summers

-          you could grow up some saplings or form another community tree nursery

Why 100,000 trees? 

It is an approximate number, either to double the number of trees or to achieve about 25% tree cover. Please see the FAQs below

Street trees

In 2017 we have approached Kingston council to reduce the cost of street trees. A tree warden scheme has started, and we had permission to plant 6 pines in Berrylands. We’re growing them up ourselves.

Street trees help make ‘leafy’ Kingston a pleasant place to live and work, but did you know there are 2,000 empty ‘pits’ in the borough where a tree has grown in the past? Neighbouring boroughs (Richmond, Merton and Sutton) each have 15 – 20,000 street trees compared to Kingston’s 11,000.  Residents already plant and water street trees in Lewisham.  Can we aim for £20 plus the cost of any groundwork to get 3x as many for same price?

Did you know that street trees where suitable can

-          help support our health and well-being (by creating a more ‘natural’ environment)

-          provide food and shelter for wildlife (with their leaves, flowers and fruit)

-          reduce storm water run-off quantity (by intercepting, slowing and reducing rainwater)

-          improve air quality (by removing pollutants)


Frequently asked questions:

1.) What are you proposing for street trees?

Our request to RBK and councillors is to work with us in a problem-solving approach to consider better ways to plant street trees.  The current method plants trees which are 5 – 7 years old to provide instant impact. In busy streets this is probably appropriate. However, they cost £90 for the tree which have restricted roots so need careful watering over the first 2 years for £100. The average total cost of £350 each has been used to set the "sponsor a tree" fee.  £385 a tree allowing for 10% which do not survive.

Our proposal would work roughly as follows:

For quiet suburban streets, we envisage residents, residents’ associations or street groups would be able to identify locations they would like trees and select the species from a council list. This would give residents control to overcome concerns about light, space for cars, and individual preferences. We can provide a “Photoshop” toolkit to mock-up what the street would look like. (Apparently, the average teenager can use this software.)

RBK would obtain trees and stakes and ties. Their contractor will metal detector scan the ground and arrange planting with residents. The residents’ group would give the trees a bucket of water once a week during the spring and summer for two years.

4.) Are you seeking to plant apple trees in the streets? No. Fallen fruit would create a mess. Tree species are decided by council arborists, but you can share your view in the survey.

5.) How are you proposing to grow up trees for gardens and elsewhere?  Some may be bought as whips for about 50p each where appropriate varieties are commercially available, but mostly they're not. We have bought seeds at about 10p each and are keeping them moist over winter waiting for them to germinate. We continue to graft fruit varieties onto rootstock.  We propagate our own rootstock and graft from our own apple, plum, pear, almond and apricots.  We can show others how to do this.

6.) Are you proposing to dispense with trees planted by council contractors or other charities?  No. But we can supplement the number of trees planted.   Trees for Cities and The Woodland Trust are already well placed to do large scale planting in green spaces when they have funding but more is needed to fill in small spaces and if every borough in the country were to double its number of trees.

7.) Where is your information about the cost of street trees from?

From the council’s draft “Community Planting Booklet” (prices correct as of July 2019):

It costs around £109 to plant in a grass verge or an existing tree pit. To create a brand new pit costs an additional:

- £97 in a bitmac footway

- £74 in concrete paving

- £90 utilities / stats search fee per road.  

£100+ for watering over 2 years

www.kingston.gov.uk website: sponsor a street tree charges £350; Tree Strategy document: 10% failure of street trees; 200 a year die (around 2%)


8.) Are there any useful links?

Royal Borough of Kingston Council sponsor a tree scheme https://www.kingston.gov.uk/info/200264/streets_roads_and_highways_maintenance/726/trees_on_our_streets/4

Street tree project in Brockley https://brockleystreettrees.blogspot.co.uk/p/welcome.html

Map of street trees in London https://maps.london.gov.uk/trees/

Royal Borough of Kingston Council tree strategy document https://www.kingston.gov.uk/downloads/download/461/tree_strategy

BBC Radio 4, Costing The Earth: Forests of the Future  https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000jf8c 


9.) Why 100,000 trees? Where is your data on number of trees from?

UK CCC proposes 19% cover    (https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/47692/emergency-tree-plan.pdf  )  Cardiff to increase to 25% cover (Woodland Trust Broadleaf magazine winter 2019/20)  

Ealing has 16.9% cover 232,000 trees 55 km2 ( https://urbantreecover.org/location/ealing-borough/ )

Ealing has 1 tree in a 15 m x 15 m square. 25% would be 1 tree in a 12.6 m x 12.6 m square.   1 tree in any typical garden that doesn’t have one.

Kingston’s area is 37 square km   36.4% green space   (https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/london-borough-profiles )

Kingston by comparison to Ealing by area has 37/ 55 x 15.8/16.9 x 232k = 145,000 trees

                by comparison to London 37/1573*8400k= 200,000     (https://urbantreecover.org/location/london/ )

If Kingston has average urban tree cover of 15.8%   (https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/research/i-tree-eco/urbancanopycover/ )

25% - 15.8% = 9.2%

9.2% / 15.8% x 145k= 90,000 + 10% margin = 100,000 trees to add to achieve 25% cover

For example, half of these in green space at 50,000 trees per sq. km (4.5 m spacing) would be 0.9 km2

10.) Are there references on air quality?

see   https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01164-3 

Paper by Lancaster University "Using green infrastructure to improve urban air quality (GI4AQ)"

11.) Are trees value for money?

Typical carbon dioxide removal estimates for trees are around 1 or 2 tonnes a year per hectare or per 500 mature trees. If we take credit for 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide removal, the cost per tree needs to be: (£20 x 40 tonnes) / 500 = £1.60 for carbon dioxide to be removed at £20 a tonne.

We could make other assumptions, but this illustrates what we can achieve with a small amount of work by many people planting locally and many years growth.

Trees provide other benefits and planting more of them is only a part of the “dig for victory” type of work that is needed to become sustainable.

12.) Should we just support the Mayor of London's offer of free saplings?

We are taking a step further to produce a better choice of saplings. 



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