Looking after a sapling is part of an initiative by LiveWest to conserve biodiversity and green spaces and to raise awareness and understanding to customers of the part they can play to help create sustainable and healthy communities.
Joe Moorat, a LiveWest resident and Jan Hall who are the chair and secretary of Greenlands Tenants and Residents Association have adopted two apple trees each that have been planted with permission from LiveWest in Plym Crescent play area.
They worked in partnership with Ali Sedgewick from Tavistock Gardening group who helped choose and organise the trees. The trees were funded by a grant from Tavistock and West Devon Borough Councillors including: Cllr Adam Bridgewater, Cllr Andy Coulson, Cllr Steve Hipsey, Cllr Mandy Ewings, Cllr Jeffrey Moody and Cllr James Spettigue.
Varieties of Tamar Valley Apple Trees were chosen for this project so they would taste good and would fruit during the summer holidays as they are planted in a play area. The apples will be free for children or families to pick in the summer.
Ali Sedgewick, from Tavistock Gardening Project said: “It is part of a long-term project, creating edible playgrounds for food and shade. Our Tavistock playgrounds are mostly devoid of shade. By making the trees productive, it’s a win-win for the environment and our children. Plym Crescent Play area is our pilot project.”
LiveWest are asking their communities for help in identifying suitable spaces on their land for planting and adopting trees and hope to plant hundreds across the south west in the next year.
Alison Knight Community Connector at LiveWest said: “LiveWest are always looking to plant more trees across its communities to absorb pollution and carbon dioxide, provide a home for wildlife, and make places look better! When we plant trees, they need a helping hand for the first few years they need regular watering, occasional weeding, and someone to ‘keep an eye on them’ as they develop. We have a team of contractors who can do this for us, but we would love for our customers to be involved to become Tree Guardians where they can.”
During the past months of lockdown, many people have taken to engaging with nature but for those without access to green spaces, communal garden areas and shared green spaces have been a blessing. With customer wellbeing high on LiveWest’s priorities it is hoped that planting the trees will not only enhance the local environment, supporting and encouraging nature to flourish in residential areas but also to engage with the community’s health and wellbeing.
Alison added: “The green areas in our communities are really important to residents, allowing them to socialise outside and enjoy the fresh air. Those who take part in the tree guardian initiative are encouraged to care for and nurture their tree for life, they will all receive an adoption certificate as acknowledgement and thanks for taking part but the real reward is knowing they are making a difference to the future of our environment.”
Members of the community are being encouraged to come together to plant a range of trees and bushes including gooseberry, black currant, red currant, apple trees, hazel, holly, dog rose, honeysuckle, alder, aspen, bird cherry, purple willow, pussy willow, grey willow, black thorn and hawthorn. Anyone who would like to become a tree guardian can visit the LiveWest website www.livewest.co.uk and search for tree guardians. LiveWest’s community connectors would work with you to find a suitable spot to allow the variety of tree to flourish.
Latest research by LiveWest found that LiveWest’s tree stock has risen from 28,000 to over 36,000, supporting its environmental strategy to enhance its green spaces and improve its environmental footprint.
LiveWest Estate Services Technical Manager Rob Scholefield, who manages the tree stock and worked with Treeconomics on the report, said: “We’ll be using the i-tree figures as part of our environmental reporting going forward.
“Since the last report we’ve recorded over 8,000 more trees, through more robust surveying processes and on newly acquired land and properties - so the benefits continue to grow.
“We want to make sure that our trees are well managed into the future, benefitting residents and ensuring that our homes remain attractive, desirable places to live.
“Having all of this positive information about the benefits of our tree stock will help us to manage our urban forest going forward to ensure that it continues to provide maximum benefits to communities.
“Trees can sometimes be viewed as a nuisance, but this report clearly shows how valuable they are – an asset rather than a liability.
“Trees and green space also provide many other benefits – cooling estates in summer, encouraging wildlife into urban areas, and providing space for recreation and education opportunities.
“Research has also shown that social housing residents with higher tree cover near their homes reported higher mental wellbeing scores than residents with negligible green space nearby.”
With 136 different species of trees across its geography, figures revealed that the replacement value of LiveWest’s tree stock is now £20 million and the value of the amenity they provide is over £220 million.
Research also found that the trees removed 5.6 tonnes of airborne pollution and 274 tonnes of carbon from the air each year.
Elsewhere it was discovered that LiveWest’s trees absorb over half of the carbon emitted from its 370 repairs’ vans.
The project valued the 7,600 tonnes of carbon stored by our trees at £1.9 million.
LiveWest’s trees also prevent nearly 10,000 cubic metres of storm water going down the drain – an annual benefit valued at £28,000.
LiveWest plans to build 6,000 new homes over the next five years and will £2billion into the region over the next 10 years.
The protection and improvement of green spaces across its geography is part of its drive to build thriving communities.
Rob added: “We value our green spaces and want to ensure that our customers get the best out of them.
“Covid has really highlighted the importance of local outdoor space. As the weather improves, our green areas become increasingly used and can become a focal point for community activity.”