Plea issued to help save Thanet’s dying street trees

Giving the trees a much wanted watering

The Thanet Trees group has launched a campaign to save the isle’s newly planted street trees.

Members of the group say aftercare of the county council planted trees is lacking and many are dying in the summer heat due to a need for watering and weeding.

As well as urging residents to contact KCC with complaints about the poor state of the trees the group is hoping people will adopt a street tree and water it before it dies.

A group spokesperson said: “We were very happy to see that KCC finally planted new street trees on the streets of Thanet in the last 6-9 months, but very disturbingly a great deal of them are now dying in the summer heat due to lack of maintenance, in particular water and weeding.

“It is incredibly upsetting for locals who don’t live particularly close to the affected trees and find it hard to tend to them with the litres of water needed to keep them alive, especially when many people who live in an impoverished area are on water meters and must conserve what they can.

“However, many hands make light work. So, we urge anyone who lives near or walks past these trees to give them a drink. They need 10 litres a day but anything will help. Please don’t think someone else is doing it. Fill a bottle and take it with you when you go out. Decorate your street tree with pictures, facts and messages, let everyone know it needs help and love and that you care about it.”

The Kent County Council draft 5 year plan states that within the next 1-2 years KCC will “develop and approve a tree policy.” Included in the 2-5 year objectives are “plant one tree for every resident, as part of our drive for carbon reduction and air quality” and “improve the quality of high street environments, including tree planting and protecting green spaces.”

The group spokesperson said: “We question how these aims are possible if newly planted trees cannot even be kept alive in Thanet. The current management of street trees is a tragic and unforgivable dereliction of duty, both to residents and the environment.

“Please contact your local KCC councillor and highways/environment departments to complain about our dying street trees and ask what will be done to ensure these aims are met in the future.”

Thanet Trees has submitted a Freedom of Information request to ask why tax payer’s money being is being spent on saplings if a lack of aftercare means they could die.

Thanet is depleted of tree canopy, with just 4.4% tree cover at the last count, one of the lowest in the country. In the Cliftonville West ward, one of the most deprived wards in the country, locals have mapped tree coverage to just 2.2% and declining.

A group spokesperson said: “Our street trees have been systematically removed by KCC and are barely ever replaced. This is an appalling indicator of the link between poverty and lack of trees. We desperately need more street trees. And we need them to survive into maturity.”

The group is hoping people will adopt and decorate a tree and then post images to social media with the hashtag #savethanettrees

A KCC spokesman said: “ As a highway authority we have invested in our street trees over the last few years and planted many hundreds of new trees across Kent to address climate change and pollution as well as improving the local street scene.

“We understand the values of trees and the importance they have on the environment and health and wellbeing of local residents. The establishment of this tree stock is important and is centred around watering in the first few years of a tree’s life.

“The watering regimes for newly planted trees have therefore been tailored to allow for more watering visits during the first year reducing as the tree becomes established.

“With the help of our current contractor, and improved monitoring, the success rate of establishing trees through good planting practices and aftercare has now reached over 95% in recent years.

“The ability to deliver our watering programme has been impacted by the Coronavirus.

“It has meant that our contractor has had resource issues with staff due to the virus and at sometimes has been operating with only 50% of their normal staff. However, despite this they have undertaken watering to our newly planted trees from mid-April but unfortunately are still behind on our normal schedule.

“In any year where there is a prolonged dry spell it is always difficult to meet the watering requirements of our new trees across the county.

“In these conditions we appreciate the help of local residents to provide additional watering, provided that they can do this safely.

“We are continuing our discussions with our term contractor to prioritise this work every effort is being made to protect our new tree stock and carry out future watering in a timely manner in these challenging times.”

8 reasons to take care of street trees:

  • They produce oxygen
  • They soak up pollution
  • They protect us from flooding
  • They soak up and store carbon
  • They keep the air cool and provide shade
  • They provide a home for wildlife
  • They are good for mental health and wellbeing
  • They make streets beautiful


  1. Regarding the notices on the tree cages (“I am a baby tree and I need love”) -why sentimentalize things to such an extent?

    • A positive news story about volunteers who really care about the environment. Some of the wording will encourage younger children to realise what is required to grow and nurture these saplings and trees. If you cannot say anything positive Or encouraging Marva Rees I suggest you keep quiet

  2. Harsh criticism, surely anything that draws attention to all our trees that are still desperate for even washing up bowl water which even being a water metered area can still be able to play their part perhaps while pouring it into a used 4 or 6 pinta carton or whatever and taking on dog walk, exercise to local green area then teaching your fellow humans by gloved pickups of glass, posties elastic bands that B.H.P.S. publicised via media killing HEDGEHOGS & saucer of clean cold water left out around dusk will help all our wildlife especially hedgehogs, thanks, keep safe and please let us all give nature a helping hand whenever and wherever, NO LITTERING PLEASE AND COVER OPEN DRAINS, COSTS LITTLE SAVES LIVES.

  3. ok i will bite ,

    ” This is an appalling indicator of the link between poverty and lack of trees.

    how do a lack of trees relate to poverty ?

    • ‘This is an appalling indicator of the link between poverty and lack of trees’

      Was hoping for someone to explain this statement. I thought poverty was down to lack of poor/lack of jobs, low pay, poor housing etc. So how does planting a few trees change this how does it stop poverty and improve pay, housing well paid jobs etc ?

      • Nr-Chance- of course poverty is caused by the factors you mention. I don’t think the spokesperson for Thanet Trees is claiming that it’s the lack of trees that cause poverty!

        • This is an appalling indicator of the link between poverty and lack of trees.

          Oh yes the person from thanet trees says that ! Very odd !

          • I thought they meant that the lack of trees contributed to the poor conditions in which the residents of deprived areas live. But, compared to other conditions in such areas, I wouldn’t use the word “appalling” in this case.

  4. I don’t know if there is a correlation in rural areas, but I expect that there are fewer trees in poorer urban areas because (at least, partly because) the housing density is greater than in better-off areas- fewer houses, more flats, small gardens if any, and more congested streets.

  5. Oh the hypocrisy!
    Almost all of the reasons given for having trees could be achieved by getting rid of motorcars and the infrastructure that supports them.

  6. I have a young plum tree that I planted as a sapling about 8 years ago. It produced about 5, 6 or possibly 7 plums one year, and thats about all! This year the leaves have curled up, and I thought it was due to drought so watered it nearly ever day since March. Then last weekend, after the high winds we had, I noticed it had dropped hundreds, yes hundreds of tiny unripe green plumlets onto the ground! Does anyone know why, is it because of some virus or other?

  7. Dumpton- A lot of leaves on my privet tree have curled up this year. I have googled “leaf curl” and it’s probably a virus. But I also found “fruit drop” somewhere- perhaps on the RHS website. Can’t remember what it said though!

    Hope your plum tree recovers.

  8. I believe it more likely to be caused by our rather freak weather than a virus, you did well for 8 years so very unlikely you are the issue.I wonder if leaves got rapidly wind burnt if exposed that is unfortunately a common problem and the strong winds also caused several birds nests to be blown down, with some adult as well as young birds becoming casualties. Glad you’ve kept watering as it is essential for fruit trees and vegetables while growing but have you tried a water butt to conserve water as recently reported as SWA wish. Washing up water cooled is also acceptable to any that we have grown from childhood upwards as it’s always healthier to rinse fruit and veg prior to eating in fresh cold water to avoid hepatitis viruses especially A. I hope that your plum tree fully recovers successfully fruiting for you to enjoy. Please may I appeal to all gardeners NOT to use SLUG PELLETS as METALDEHYDE was banned by DEFRA Dec. 2018 in order to preserve Britain’s fave mammal our native hedgehog’s plummeting numbers, killing native song birds who also eat slugs and snails as well A LEGAL LOOPHOLE HAS OCCURRED overturning it until the Sec. of State reinstates it following due process, that cannot come soon enough for hedgehogs etc.Thanks from our wildlife.

  9. Despite curly leaves, the Sparrows still seem to like using it as stop over to where ever they are going! Had a bumper crop of Sparrows this year, probably because I nailed an old “Throw” over the roof of my bike shed, and sprinkle bird seed on it morning and evening! Get a couple wood pigeons most days as well, and a huge Dove like bird, no idea what its called!

  10. If it’s got a narrow dark circle around its neck it’s a collared dove. But they’re not very big- about 12inches/30 cm.

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