Councillors at the Reading Borough Council (RBC) policy committee on 17 February opted for a quick meeting. The time was taken up with three questions from a member of the public and three from Councillor Rob White. In the answer to his first question we learnt that Katesgrove is almost at the bottom of Reading’s tree cover league.
Councillor Rob White asked the lead councillor for culture, heritage and recreation, Karen Rowland, if the council would double Reading’s tree cover, and what the percentage of tree cover was in each of Reading’s wards.
She replied that Reading’s tree cover is currently 18%, which is higher than the England average for towns and cities of 16%.
The ward breakdown using the i-Tree canopy assessment tool showed that Mapledurham has the highest proportion of tree canopy cover at 32.2% and Battle the lowest at 6.7%.
|Ward||% tree canopy cover|
She went on to say that despite a commitment to increasing the number of trees and a doubling of the budget for tree planting, doubling of tree cover to 36% was not realistic because:
…much of Reading lies in the hands of private owners which we have no control over except in the case of new development. As well as the significant proportion of the borough which is built up, some of the undeveloped parts of Reading where tree cover is limited, such as the flood meadows along the Thames and Kennet are important habitats in their own right…
There will be a consultation on a new Tree Strategy for Reading to replace the 2010 version in March 2020.
After questions, the meeting then moved on to the main agenda items. These related to next year’s budget and actions taken since Reading declared a climate emergency. These were swiftly dispatched with unanimous approval for their discussion and consideration at next week’s full council meeting on 25 February.