London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a £3.1 million tree planting package as part of efforts to combat climate change in the capital.
The announcement follows last week’s wildfires that raged across London as a result of extreme temperatures, which prompted London Fire Brigade (LFB) to declare a major incident.
The Environment Agency also warned more prolonged dry weather over the coming weeks could push the capital and the south east into a drought as soon as August.
Heat in cities is said to be intensified by the ‘Urban Heat Island’ effect as a result of the sun’s rays being absorbed by hard surfaces instead of trees, plants and grass.
Increasing the number of trees in London is expected to help tackle this issue, cooling the city and providing shade to Londoners while making it more resilient to flooding.
The existing trees in London are estimated to provide at least £133 million of benefits every year, help improve air quality by removing 2,241 tonnes of pollution annually, including harmful PM10 particulates and NO2 roadside emissions.
Trees also create a vital habitat for London’s wildlife, reduce flood risk and help to tackle climate change through absorbing and storing carbon.
The latest package includes an £800,000 top up to the mayor’s Grow Back Greener community grant scheme and a £1 million street trees programme, including supporting boroughs to sign up to the Trees for Streets sponsorship initiative and match funding 1,000 trees in areas of low canopy cover.
In addition, around £320,000 will be provided for community tree packs to community groups and schools with The Conservation Volunteers and £1 million for transformational tree planting and woodland creation projects to create shady groves in areas of high heat risk.
Mr Khan said: “The extreme temperatures and fires that raged across the capital last week laid bare how vulnerable London is to the effects of climate change, which is why today I’ve pledged a further £3.1m for a mass tree-planting package to help limit the impacts of the climate emergency and the ecological crisis.
“The climate emergency is the biggest global threat we face today and we know that it doesn’t impact all Londoners equally, with communities suffering poverty, deprivation and health inequalities more likely to experience the worst effects of flooding, overheating and poor quality air. As Mayor, I will continue my bold action to preserve and increase tree coverage across the capital as we build a better, greener and more sustainable London for everyone.”