Councillor Mike Sole (Nailbourne Ward) has called for the City Council to take a bold and imaginative move to create People’s Forests in the district.

Councillor Mike Sole (Nailbourne Ward) has called for the City Council to take a bold and imaginative move to create People’s Forests in the district.

Mike said “Woodland and forests are fantastic for all sorts of wildlife and play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions.

They are great recreational areas for walks, cycling, riding, running, picnics, relaxation etc. This can have very positive physical and mental health benefits.”

“This government talks about planting more trees, but the reality is that the numbers planted are woefully below the numbers necessary to significantly reduce the impact of carbon emissions.

It is now time for local government to step in, help combat climate change, and at the same time create recreational areas for residents and visitors to the district to enjoy.”

“I would like Canterbury City Council to set up a charitable trust to purchase low grade farmland land with low development value in order to create a number of accessible people’s forests around the district. Carefully inclusion of sites in the Local Plan would enable these to be strategically placed so to maximise access by walkers and cyclists.”

“Over a five year period one tree would be planted for every resident of the district

After that period at least one additional tree should be planted for every new person born or moving into the district.”

“Developers would be required to pay a levy to the city council that would be passed onto the trust. This might for example be equivalent to the purchase price of agricultural land equivalent to the ground floor area of a every house built (excluding gardens) , plus the cost of one tree per bedroom.”

“The trust would also seek local sponsors and tap into national grants and other funding sources.”

Thriving woodlands require active management. The Trust would work with local educational establishments (schools, colleges and universities) to set up forestry management courses. This would not only provided some hands on staff, but also give training opportunities and provide additional income. Day courses could also be offered to the general public.

Mike added, “In time the trust would also seek to help source trees, and start a tree nursery on its own land, so that it becomes, at least partial, self sustaining, and is able to provide saplings across the district. This is a model that could be replicated across the UK to spearhead the reforestation of the landscape.“

Alex Ricketts

Written by Alex Ricketts

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