As a collaboration between Weston Super-Mare Town Council, Weston super-Mare Civic Society and SEE MONSTER Environmental Think Tank, the newly formed Weston Tree Group is focused on increasing the tree abundance, canopy cover and biodiversity across Weston and surrounding areas. 

Weston Tree Group held their first Zoom meeting on Wednesday 16th March. The meeting brought passionate individuals and organisations with both expertise and environmental enthusiasm to tackle the declared “Climate and Ecological crisis”.

In recent months, the storms have left devastation to trees all across the UK, which has only increased the urgency. Steve Clark, tree consultant for Weston Super-Mare Town Council opened the meeting by highlighting the council’s goal of planting 10,000 trees in response to this crisis. In 2014, North Somerset Council’s Tree Eco survey revealed that the urban trees within Weston have a wide range of benefits such as reducing air pollution, flooding, energy costs and urban heating whilst also supporting oxygen production, increasing wildlife biodiversity and of course, improving the appearance of our surroundings.

Features amongst the upcoming projects for Weston super Mare are the planting opportunities for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the summer SEE MONSTER exhibition. Collaborated by creative studio NEWSUBSTANCE and supported by North Somerset Council, the upcoming SEE MONSTER exhibition will hopefully reignite the Tropicana site into ‘public art’ in Summer 2022. SEE MONSTER will also pave the way for a new urban garden in Weston super Mare and the donated plants will act as a ‘lasting legacy’ for the project.

Panel members outlined additional planned tree planting projects for Weston super Mare. Rosie Walker, Regional External Affairs Officer for the Woodland Trust discussed aims for 30% tree canopy cover across the UK and in alignment with Weston super Mare Town Council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy, the trust will be supplying some of the trees to be used in planting schemes. Joe Robson, senior Arboriculturist for the Curo group added that the Green Infrastructure Strategy will support approaches to increase biodiversity and manage the trees and open spaces. Similarly, Alex Stone as Deputy Executive Director of the Forest of Avon outlined their regional tree planting schemes and the current action plan for North Somerset. The Forest of Avon Plan for Weston super Mare includes plans to establish; native trees and shrubs, trees within the streets of Weston, within schools and on private land. 

With the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, Emily Burnell, Project Coordinator for Queen’s Green Canopy Woods then highlighted the promotion for individuals and small community groups to “plant a tree for the [Queen’s Platinum] Jubilee”, in addition to larger-scale plans of planting 70-acre woodlands across the UK. Adding to this, Gloria Craig, Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset on the Queen’s Green Canopy project encouraged any trees planted in Weston Super-Mare to be added to the map via the Queen’s Green Canopy Website, as a lasting legacy to the Queen. 

Moreover, North Somerset Council Tree Officer James McCarthy highlighted the current achievements of 50,000 planted trees and 25-30 hectares of long grass habitat created through the North Somerset rewilding scheme. This has already dramatically increased biodiversity of insects and wildflowers, as investigated by the Avon Wildlife Trust. Likewise, David Agassiz reported the recent planting of 15 cherry blossom trees on the Boulevard as a replacement for the recent tree felling. David Agassiz also explained that the Civic Society are keen to see more trees within the town centre, along the main roads and more hedges instead of domestic fencing. With the aim of improving the appearance of the town, Councillor Crockford-Hawley also shared visions of trees in the front and back gardens of every new house, planting in the Italian gardens and Canary Palms along the seafront.

Finally, an open discussion of the group highlighted further proposals for planting projects in and around Weston super Mare, and members agreed a collaborative aim to locate potential planting sites for new trees. Thanks to the convenience of online Zoom meetings, Weston Tree Group aim to continue meeting bi-monthly on Wednesdays, with the next meeting planned for the 18th May. Members of the public are encouraged to get involved and join the collaborative effort at reviving tree life within Weston Super-Mare.

Please join the mailing list to get involved. 

By Danni Silver

‘Love the outdoors volunteer’.