Sponsoring a street tree to go outside your house, or somewhere in your neighbourhood, is a simple yet powerful act. It involves making a financial contribution towards the cost of a new tree, and in some instances taking on the job of the watering to make sure it establishes.
Sharing the load
While most councils have comprehensive tree-planting plans, and do a lot of work to maintain and care for the trees already planted in their area, their budgets can only go so far - and they certainly don't go as far as they used to. The COVID crisis has stretched those resources even further. Also street trees tend to be older, taller trees that require specialist planting, making them much more expensive than the small twig-like specimens (known as whips) that are often planted in parks and woodland. That’s why your contribution, both in terms of the sponsorship donation and the watering of the tree, can make a significant dent in the cost of getting more trees into our streets.
Sponsorship also means that your local authority can plant many more trees for the same budget. You probably didn’t know it, but just by watering a sponsored tree you can save your council up to £200 in costs over the first 3 years.
Make a positive change to the world outside your front door
All too often residents find it difficult having any impact in their immediate world. They can feel disenfranchised from what’s happening in their neighbourhoods, and almost entirely disconnected from what’s going on at a national level. So sponsoring a local tree is a simple way to make a positive change to your immediate world.
It creates a sense of control, a sense of ownership, and a sense of pride. A tree will be there for a very long time.
We spoke with, London resident, Hannah Hislop, who sponsored a tree when she moved into her street, and she told us, ‘It feels that by planting a tree, we were very much saying we want to be here for a long time, and we want to positively impact the street.’
Watering a street tree says this neighbourhood cares
Street trees need watering over their first 3 years to help them get established. The council normally takes on this job, usually by employing a contractor. But this is something residents can either assist with or in some cases do entirely.
The act of going out and watering your tree is very symbolic. It tells the world that you care, that this is the sort of neighbourhood where the residents will actually do something themselves to improve the public domain.
We’re often not physically present in our streets. We drive when we could walk. But when you’re out watering your tree your neighbours come over and say hello. It creates a connection.
A nudge in the right direction
Seeing a neighbour doing something to make their street better is a strong nudge to others. It helps foster other positive local initiatives, like litter-picking or maybe planting up a verge, which all come together to create that sense of community so many of us crave.
Dissolving the barriers between councils and residents
On the whole councils want to work more closely with their residents, this tree sponsorship scheme is a simple mechanism for doing just that. It is a powerful step towards dissolving the barriers between councils and residents. The them and us.
Street trees are very much part of our national ‘natural’ heritage. When we think of a British street, we think of a tree-lined street. It’s imprinted on our DNA. So having a tree planted is supporting a long term legacy – something that will be growing and providing benefit for decades.
You’re sponsoring a miracle machine
But its not just the heritage, you’re planting a miracle machine in your road. As your street tree grows and develops, so do its powers. Day in, day out, it’ll stand their absorbing CO2 and airborne pollution, its leafy canopy will cast shade and help cool our towns and cities, and it’ll help alleviate localised flash flooding. Trees help nature regain a footing across our built environments – creating natural connections.
These trees also make us feel better. They are proven to improve our physical and mental well-being. They can help calm speeding traffic, and reduce crime. They even have the power to improve the price of your beloved home – because people find tree lined streets more desirable.
According to Natural England, for every £1 spent on trees, the UK saves £7 in healthcare, energy and environmental costs. And in the ‘Trees Matter’ study by the National Urban Forestry Unit, they report that ‘urban residents suffering from stress have been shown to experience less anxiety and insecurity when they have a view of trees.’ They also go on to say that ‘A well-treed urban landscape is more sheltered, more stimulating, and more likely to encourage local journeys on foot or bike, thus making active outdoor exercise more enjoyable.
So we hope you’ll agree that the simple act of sponsoring a street tree is a quietly powerful thing to do.
You can use this website to find out whether your council is running a street tree sponsorship scheme. We host schemes for a growing number of councils.
If you live in one of those areas, you can make an application to sponsor a tree in your street, or your local park, right here on this website. It'll only take you a few minutes.
If your council is not running a scheme, you can fill in our Expression of Interest form and we'll email your council on your behalf to encourage them to get involved.