The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is the latest organisation to sign up to Tree Time Edinburgh, showing their commitment to the city by contributing more trees for Edinburgh’s cityscape as well as donating a team of staff volunteers to help community projects.
SFC’s support means 30 trees will be added to the tally to be planted over the 2015-16 winter by Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust (ELGT), creating a lasting legacy for the future by planting trees now to replace those which die or are felled each year in Edinburgh.
At any one time 100,000 trees, or 15% of all the city’s total, are in a critical condition – either dead or needing to be felled – and 2,000 are lost each year. Too often, it is landmark trees which are lost and which will take many years for any replacements to become as large – action is needed now to plant more and to get replacements in the ground.
What’s more, Edinburgh’s trees are at risk from various natural threats on the horizon – for example the city’s 36,000 ash trees are threatened by Chalara Ash disease, which has already killed at least 95% of Denmark’s ash trees.
As part of Tree Time Edinburgh, staff from SFC are committing a whole day’s volunteering with ELGT to tackle the menace of Himalayan Balsam along the north Edinburgh cycle and walking paths. Himalayan Balsam is a highly invasive alien species which spreads rapidly, grows almost anywhere and which smothers all competing vegetation, including newly-planted saplings and young trees. A plant can produce 800 seeds in pods which explode, blasting seeds up to 7m away. The best way to stop its spread is to pull up each plant before its flowers turn to seed. ELGT has been tackling the balsam on the cycle paths for the past five years, relying on local volunteers.
Mark Sydenham, of Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust, said: “I’m delighted that the Scottish Funding Council has signed up to Tree Time Edinburgh. Not only will this mean more trees planted, but SFC’s staff will help us reach more areas where Himalayan Balsam is growing, make sure already-cleared areas stay balsam-free and that young and future trees won’t be choked. It is only because of the past work of volunteers that ELGT was able to plant 3,500 trees on the paths at the end of 2013 in areas where if the balsam was left unchecked, new trees would struggle to grow.”
Laurence Howells, chief executive of the Scottish Funding Council, said: “The Scottish Funding Council is committed to Tree Time Edinburgh’s target of planting 6,500 trees a year and I’m delighted that our support will plant 30 saplings towards this. We’ll also be getting actively involved with 20 staff volunteering to help clear invasive plants and work with other community projects supported by Tree Time.”