Ex-Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett calls for Sheffield Council to plant more trees following report by Nature Counts

Former leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett said that Sheffield City Council need to plant “street trees” to make up for the damage that has been done by the tree-felling.

She said: “We have lost so much, 97% of our meadows since the last World War, and we live in a deluded country, we can’t afford to lose anymore.”

The politician raised the point that trees help with human wellbeing and also keep the city cool as the temperatures increase due to climate change.

Ms Bennett said: “There are areas in the city that don’t have any street trees at all and they are particularly important. In some ways the damage has been done but we need to protect and enhance our city.”

Sheffield has been the centre of attention on a worldwide scale following the tree-felling campaigns and Bennett said that the world thinks about Sheffield as “a place that cuts down trees.”

She added: “In some ways the damage has already been done. We had a visit from the Taiwanese Green Party and they had seen the tree situation on our television news.”

These comments come in response to the recent report by Nature Counts, led by Sheffield and Rotherham wildlife, that the council need to protect wildlife and wild spaces now more than ever.

The report said: “Over half of Sheffield’s Local Wildlife Sites (LWSs) are in positive conservation management, but over 100 are still not. There is some uncertainty surrounding the future protection of our European-protected habitats and support for the management of farmland habitats post-Brexit.”

The report reveals that:

  • Over a third of Sheffield is covered by sites that are designated (i.e. protected to some extent), and positively managed or in a favourable condition for wildlife consistently increasing. Over 100 Local Wildlife Sites, however, are still in need of better management.
  • 16 per cent of Sheffield is wooded, far higher than the UK average of 10 per cent, and over 90 per cent of Sheffield’s residents have access to a large area of woodland within 4km of their home.
  • Sheffield’s woodland birds are doing well but farmland birds represent four of the five most severe declines in local bird species, mirroring a national trend.
  • Otters have returned to the Don and 26 out of Sheffield’s 31 fish species have recolonised or been reintroduced to the city’s rivers thanks to tireless efforts to improve its water quality.

Sheffield’s State of Nature report, released on 27 April 2018 is the first of its kind and the collaboration involved many organisations, including Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Sheffield City Council Ecology Unit, Museums Sheffield (Weston Park Museum), the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Sorby Natural History Society and Sheffield Bird Study Group.

Harvey Lewis

First year journalism undergraduate student at the University of Sheffield.

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