Trees, Woodlands and Forests. A guide for developers and planners Northwest Regional Forestry Framework

Developing policy and guidance

The provision of trees, woodlands and forests needs to be more than just a legal obligation. The impact they have on our quality of life and the role they play in green infrastructure, climate change and sustainability makes them an essential part of our urban environments.

Green Infrastructure (GI) is defined as ‘the region’s life support system – the network of natural environmental components and green and blue spaces that lie within and between the North West’s cities, towns and villages which provides multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.’ North West Green Infrastructure Guide, Version 1.1, North West Green Infrastructure Think Tank.

Key factors that policy planners need to consider include:

Tree audit

Tree audit – the amount of trees needed within the policy should be based on an evidenced based study of tree cover. Local planning authorities should calculate existing tree canopy cover, set targets for increasing this cover and monitor the success of policies and programmes in delivering these increases. It is important to include all trees within this audit, including those in gardens, on railway land or on overgrown development sites.

Right tree, right location

Right tree, right location – the correct species of tree needs to be used dependent on the landscape character of the area. This helps with the longevity of the tree and its successful integration into the environment. An understanding of the characteristics and growth of trees is particularly important within development sites, especially in relation to the proximity of buildings and potential structural damage caused by roots.

Provision of mature trees

Provision of mature trees to compensate for the loss of existing mature trees – older trees with larger canopies provide greater benefit in terms of green infrastructure, climate change adaptation, visual amenity and nature conservation. Replacing these with saplings and immature trees can have short to medium term impacts on the benefits of tree cover.

Allocate land within the Site Allocations DPD

Allocate land within the Site Allocations DPD – this should be supported by the Core Strategy and Development Control policies to protect and increase woodland cover as part of the green infrastructure network.

Protection of trees within private gardens

Protection of trees within private gardens – two thirds of all trees are on private land or less accessible public land. These trees are an important woodland resource and contribute towards green infrastructure and the functions of trees within urban environments. This resource must be maintained, enhanced and increased, but without being overly prescriptive to landowners.

Understand the contribution of trees

Understand the contribution of trees and woodlands to green infrastructure and climate change adaptation – core strategies should incorporate a green infrastructure policy linked to a local green infrastructure plan.