Free Trees For Wokingham Borough Residents

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Residents of Wokingham borough can claim one or more free trees to plant on their land as part of a campaign to improve the environment and fight climate change.

Following a successful pilot round, which saw about 800 people collect a sapling at the start of the planting season last month, Wokingham Borough Council is now inviting applications for the second phase of its Garden Forest Scheme.

It hopes to process these by the end of the current planting season in March, when it will contact successful applicants to pick up their tree from a dedicated point within the borough.

The scheme is open to anyone with a Wokingham borough postcode, including businesses or community groups, who either owns sufficient land or has access to land where the owner has given permission for planting.

Five different species are on offer and the council will do all it can to honour people’s preferences on collection day, though stocks may be limited and will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applicants can request up to 10 trees from the following list, using the council’s Engage Wokingham Borough platform, before Sunday, 12 February 2023:

  • Hazel (Corylus avellana): 60 to 80cm, grows 40 to 60cm annually, full height 4 to 10m
  • Crab apple (Malus sylvestris): 60 to 90cm, grows 30cm annually, full height 7 to 9m
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): 60 to 80cm, grows 20 to 40cm annually, full height 8 to 10m
  • Silver birch (Betula pendula): 80 to 100cm, grows 40cm annually, full height 15 to 20m
  • Field maple (Acer campestre): 60 to 80cm, grows 40 to 60cm annually, full height 20m

We can all do our bit for a greener borough

Cllr Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “I urge anyone who has space for a tree to make the most of this free offer, which we’re pleased to be able to offer with no impact on our own finances.

“As well as making your own garden or land look more attractive, you’ll be improving its value as a habitat for wildlife and doing your bit to improve our environment in all sorts of ways. We’ve been delighted by the response to the initial round of the Garden Forest Scheme and hope it will prove equally popular, if not more so, as we seek to build on that early success.”

The Garden Forest Scheme is funded by a £300,000 contribution from the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund, which will also cover various planting initiatives over the next five or so years on the council’s land and public land as well as private sites.

It’s part of the Tree Project, a wide-ranging initiative to increase tree planting in the borough and ensure that existing trees are looked after by creating a Tree Strategy, which the council is consulting on until Sunday, 22 January.

The Tree Project was launched as part of the authority’s 2020 climate emergency action plan, in which it pledged to do all it can to help make Wokingham borough a net-zero carbon emitter by 2030.

Trees play a vital role as they absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, from the atmosphere. They also absorb other harmful pollutants from burning fossil fuels, so they can improve air quality, and have proven benefits for people’s mental wellbeing.

They currently cover more than one-fifth of the borough’s surface area, absorbing 12,000 tonnes of carbon per year and 985 million litres of rainwater run-off, enough to fill 394 Olympic swimming pools.

How To Apply For Free Trees

To find out more or apply for the tree(s), visit engage.wokingham.gov.uk