County council pledge to plant a tree for every person who lives within Kent

Tree planting pledge

By Local Democracy reporter Ciaran Duggan

More than 1.5million trees will be planted across Kent as part of the county council’s commitment to adapting to climate change.

Kent County Council has pledged to plant a tree for every person who lives within the authority’s area – which totals just over 1.5million – in an effort to protect and enhance the county’s natural landscape.

A KCC working group is now being set up to formulate a policy to achieve this, which includes finding suitable sites for planting of the trees.

Cllr Matthew Balfour (Con) welcomed the plan and described it as “sensible” during a meeting of KCC’s environment and transport committee at Maidstone County Hall yesterday (January 23).

The vice-chairman of Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty said: “We are dealing with a varied county, lots of which is already built up and choked in places like Dartford.

“You do not live as long if you live anywhere near the Dartford tunnel.”

Pressure has been placed on KCC to act amid the growing threat of a killer fungus, Ash Dieback, which could cause the death of around half a million ash trees already growing on KCC’s estate.

Kent’s most widespread tree is European Ash and when the fungus evolves, the tree has no natural defence against the incurable disease.

Originating from Asia, the fungus spores can blow many miles away, landing on other trees and penetrating inside until it blocks its water transport systems, causing it to die.

Cllr Ian Chittenden (Lib Dem), a member of the new working group, said: “I have seen many trees chopped down in my division over the past 10 years and not been able to get a penny out of KCC of putting them back.

“It’s cost me £50,000 out of my devolved budget. I welcome this and fully support it.”

New trees will take up to 30 years to mature, meaning it will be a long time before any significant environmental benefits are felt from the policy.

Cllr Susan Carey (Con), cabinet member for environment, said: “Our officers have taken this concept and made it so much better by enlarging it and making it about natural capital.”

A KCC paper published to the committee last week adds: “This report describes the context for a natural capital policy which will encompass the commitment to plant a tree for every head of population in Kent, but as part of a wider framework to protect, enhance and use Kent’s natural capital to manage and adapt to climate change and support biodiversity.”

Th cross-party group’s progress will be presented as part of report to KCC’s environment and transport committee in March.


  1. It’s a good start but it really needs to be double for real benefit as we have lost so many through Ash die back and unscrupulous development of housing in the main and industrial developments. When you look at how many trees are being planted in Margate alone 1.5 million throughout Kent is like putting two trees in a football pitch not a lot of trees but it’s a start and as the saying goes out of little Acorns big Oak trees grow. And if we can encourage more hedgerows to be built as well as planting of wild flowers this would also benefit all kinds of animals especially birds, bee’s, butterfly’s, and all manner of insects to return we truly will be the GARDEN OF ENGLAND.

  2. How about a community woodland in Thanet – there are no proper woods here, and Thanet must be one of the least tree-covered parts of the county. We are crying out for this, and I am sure that there must be some agricultural land which could be spared on the Isle. Something like the woodland planted a couple of decades ago on top of Detling Hill, which is maturing well. Come on KCC!

  3. This is a chance for our two tory members of Parliament to help us and get PM Boris Johnson to show how much he cares towards a cleaner greener environment and climate change by doubling the money KCC are putting towards the trees so we can plant 3 million trees. If Craig Mackinlay and Sir Roger Gale get together with the other Conservative MPs in Kent I’m sure they can persuade Boris or the minister for Forestry parks & open spaces can come up with some money towards this.

  4. Whilst I applaud the initiative in stating that many trees will be planted, we need to also be very serious about not felling mature trees of any type. Local council planning departments are bypassing their regulations and policies as they bend backwards in support of developers with crazy schemes. The reason there aren’t many trees about anymore is down to councils in the first place. They have been systematically running roughshod over objections in passing any application to fell trees in the way of a development. Very few objections have succeeded but this must change dramatically as the climate is changing. We must all do our part.

  5. Great initiative but will the funding be in place to maintain them? You can’t just plant a tree and leave it to its own devices. Due to our weather becoming drier young trees are dying off as they can’t get enough water to survive.Even let ng-established ones need looking after so will this be left to volunteer groups?

    • Jenny Matterface

      Well going by how much it costs to plant 1200 in Margate at over 1 million pounds, I hope the funding isnt available to maintain them at £800per tree which is the going rate in Margate , it would cost kcc £1,200,000,000.

  6. A good point about the need to keep up maintenance of trees over time. From care and protection from rabbits or drought, when small, to cutting back diseased limbs to protect the public when the tree is , say, over 50 years old.
    But our natural woods and forests have managed for centuries , so , surely, we can cope as well.

    With Brexit, we can expect a contraction of land given over to certain types of agriculture. Welsh and Scots hill-farmers may well go under if there is a tariff on UK lamb sold in the EU. Or if a new trade deal with Australia or New Zealand means having to import more lamb from the other side of the world so that those countries buy our “financial services”via the City of London bankers.
    So that hill land could be used for really extensive forests.

    Here in the south-east, our fruit and veg crops may well be needed but we may struggle to get the workforce to work the land as the Pound has been sinking so there is less incentive for eastern European workers to come here as their wages-in Pounds- don’t look so good compared to their own currencies. There may be post-Brexit red-tape and paperwork to fill out as well. Easier to just travel to Holland or Germany, or to pick grapes in sunny France than to come to wet and windy(and hostile) Britain.
    But unused land round Kent may become snapped up by property developers so tree-planting may take place in odd little corners that local Councils and Wildlife charities may be able to get hold of.
    Of course, KCC could insist that any new housing development include extensive tree-planting. But that would force them to confront the power of building companies and our local, usually Tory-run, Councils , don’t ever seem willing to do that. Hence the proliferation of big, expensive houses when the County needs more Social Housing and affordable units.
    Even when “amenity” trees are planted round new estates, the trees are usually bunged in at the end, into indifferent soil that has been impacted in the building stage. And they are then left to survive as they can. Planted, hopefully, in winter, not during a summer drought.

    I don’t envy Kent County Council finding the land to plant all these much-needed trees. Then again, perhaps they haven’t thought it through much, or never really meant it, but thought it sounded sufficiently “green” and “environmental”. Now that they have to keep up a new “caring and sharing” image for the voters.

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