Leeds flies the flag as a Tree City of the World

Five flags are now being flown in the city’s major parks to celebrate Leeds’ recognition as a Tree City of the World. The international accolade recognises Leeds’ commitment to caring for its trees and woodland. Flags will be displayed at Temple Newsam, Roundhay, Middleton, Golden Acre and Kirkstall parks. 

Trees have been shown to have enormous benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. They can also act as a natural flood defence, capture and store carbon emissions, and help shade and cool urban areas on hot days.  

For all of these reasons, Leeds City Council has previously committed to practically doubling tree canopy cover across the district by 2050. 

With the city’s new status as a Tree City of the World, Leeds joins a global network of cities recognised for their commitment towards the planting, protection, and maintenance of trees. Tree Cities of the World is a programme founded by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Arbor Day Foundation, a not-for-profit membership organisation dedicated to promoting the benefits of urban forestry.  

Leeds has shown that it meets five standards required by the programme for cities to achieve the coveted status: establishing responsibility for tree care; producing policy to manage trees; creating an inventory of existing trees; allocating a budget towards tree management and maintenance; and celebrating trees and those who help to plant and protect them.  

Since July 2020, the council has planted 50 hectares of trees on council-owned land each year as part of its ‘Woodland Creation Scheme’. Additionally, the city’s work to improve flood resilience has seen more than 410,000 trees planted within the River Aire catchment.  

Leeds City Council is also a partner of the regional White Rose Forest initiative, which works to connect farmers and landowners with funding for tree planting. The initiative helps bridge the gap between government and landowners, making the process of funding and delivering tree planting as seamless as possible for those that apply. 

Earlier this year, the council hosted an International Tree Seminar which saw city officials from the Czech Republic, Portugal and China meet virtually to discuss urban forestry and share best practice.  

The new Tree City of the World status comes as Leeds’ parks were recently awarded a coveted Green Flag award for their beautifully maintained environments and excellent visitor facilities. 

Residents, businesses, and landowners can find out how they can support trees and help the city achieve its ambitious tree planting targets by visiting: www.leeds.gov.uk/trees. 

Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for public health and active lifestyles at Leeds City Council said: 

“I’m thrilled that our city is being recognised internationally for the fantastic work we’re doing to plant, protect and preserve trees.  

“Coupled with the news that Leeds parks have achieved the Green Flag Award, Tree City of the World status is another testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams and volunteers that make Leeds’ green spaces enjoyable for everyone.” 

Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation said: 

“Every single city recognised as a Tree City of the World has done a fantastic job of making urban forestry a main focus in its community. Through this recognition, cities all across the world will join a network of like-minded communities”. 

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