Last weekend we were delighted to be asked to give a talk at a session preparing for next years’ London Urban Tree Festival. Here we want give you a progress report for the TreeLogga project so far.
The TreeLogga Project Team
My husband and I set up the TreeLogga Project a few months ago. Our son’s daily interest in all things tree-related is a constant reminder to us why we want greater community engagement in street trees.
I’m Carly Hayes. I’ve spent several years working in medical research, am trained as a Medical Writer and have a PhD in Genetics. A couple of years ago, while on maternity leave with my son, I retrained as a Social Media Manager. In this role I have worked on campaigns on ageism and mindfulness.
My husband, Lee Hayes, is a Data Analyst in the Financial Sector. He’s also a long-running campaigner for improved walking/cycling infrastructure and clean air across London. His campaign interests are what led us to thinking about the benefits of street trees.
Summary of Current Goals
Our mission statement is ‘Growing urban trees into community assets’. By this we mean that we want to make people appreciate the importance of the street trees they take for granted and walk past every day. We aim to do this by encouraging residents to collaborate with like-minded neighbours and local authorities to plant, maintain and protect local street trees.
The main focus of our campaign is getting residents to log local street trees, or empty tree pits where new trees could be planted, using an app. We would then like these residents to become TreeLoggas, taking responsibility for these logged trees and updating the app when the status of each tree changes.
Lifecycle of an Urban Tree
One of the first things we did when we set up this project was to think about how urban trees are different to trees in a forest. As part of this, we created the lifecycle of an urban tree.
Urban trees are grown in nurseries, before being planted on streets or green areas that often do not provide ideal conditions for growth. It is therefore at this early stage (#NewTree) that these trees are most vulnerable. However, our lifecycle shows that mature trees are also under threat. Action must be taken during droughts, when they’re damaged by external factors or diseases/pests and when they become overgrown.
Our aim is to get our TreeLoggas monitoring their favourite street trees and using the different stages of the lifecycle to keep updating our records on the status of each tree. We can then provide this information to local councils and other authorities to ensure that these trees are maintained and protected as much as possible.
Our TreeLoggas So Far
We’ve interacted with the very helpful TiCL Team and are using their app to map trees. We’re logging existing trees and empty tree pits (#TreeHoles) in Waltham Forest (see here for instructions on how to use the app to map existing trees and here for #TreeHoles). After a request on Twitter, we’ve also set up a tree holes map for Redbridge, although our initial focus is still on the borough of Waltham Forest, which is our test case.
A number of residents have started logging trees on each map, and we’ve met several of these residents in person. They’ve been very helpful in providing feedback on our project and raising more complicated issues related to street tree care. These residents are very invested in street trees already. They’re regularly out watering street trees and planting flowers in tree pits, and are keen to help with planting and maintaining new street trees.
Progress in other areas
We’ve also made contact with a number of local ward councillors in Waltham Forest. Shortly, we’re hoping to set up an event in our ward to begin a dialogue between residents and the council regarding street trees. Connections have been made with Redbridge councillors and urban tree champions in other areas of the country. Therefore, we hope to be able to scale up the campaign once our initial testing stage is complete.
Through interactions on Twitter and our presentation at an Urban Tree Talk last week, we have connected with a number of experts in the field of aboriculture and with other very successful London community groups. They’ve all been very helpful with suggestions for us, moving forward.
We’ve heard from a Tree Officer at Waltham Forest Council that they’re planting 100 trees this planting season, so our current focus is to encourage residents to map tree holes. We’ll then pass on this information to the council in the hope that new trees will be planted in these locations shortly.
We plan to interact more with local gardening groups and residents associations moving forward, to encourage more residents to become TreeLoggas. We’d also like to use their expertise to apply for funding from sources separate to the council, as there are a number of charities that provide free trees to community groups for planting.
Our final major aim will be to encourage residents to get involved in watering their local street trees, in particular ahead of the Summer warm period next year. We’re still considering how best to do this and would love to hear your thoughts.