DD1432 For the Love of Trees - London programme

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
11 November 2015
Decision by: 
Fiona Fletcher-Smith, Executive Director of Development, Enterprise and Environment

Executive summary

The Mayor’s target is to increase tree cover from 20% to 25% by 2025.  To achieve this the GLA encourages and supports activities that help meet this ambition including new planting, raising awareness of the value and importance of the capital’s trees and getting communities (including volunteers) involved in planting new trees and maintaining the existing “urban forest”.

To help support the campaign a partnership 'For the Love of Trees - London' has been created with Unilever, which aims to increase the engagement of Londoners in enhancing their local communities through tree planting, and highlight the value of trees in London’s “urban forest”  (contributing towards a wider Unilever global trees campaign) .  Unilever will contribute £80,000 between October 2015 and March 2016 to support the campaign. Specifically the partnership will plant 40,000 trees across London in 2015-16. Activity will include mass tree planting events and distributing free trees to London schools; and encouraging Londoners to learn more about the value of their ‘urban forest’ through publishing the new iTree report research. 





That the Executive Director approves:

1. The GLA’s receipt of £80,000 from Unilever, as part of the ‘For the Love of Trees - London’ programme.
2. Expenditure of up to £80,000 to enter into grant agreements with the following three separate initiatives:  

•    Planting 20,000 trees at King George’s Field in Ealing – funding of £50,000 to Trees for Cities towards the costs of the project;
•    Distributing approximately 20,000 free trees to London schools – funding of £15,000 to The Woodland Trust to administer schools’ applications and distribute tree packs; and
•    The publication of the London iTree Eco Survey Report – funding of £15,000 to the Forestry Commission London for the preparation, publication and launch of the report


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The Mayor’s target is to increase tree cover from 20% to 25% by 2025. The primary programme through which this is delivered is the RE:LEAF partnership, which encourages individual Londoners, businesses and organisations to plant and protect more trees. So far the partnership has planted over 400,000 trees (since 2011) through a range of projects including planting 20,000 street trees. Activities support new planting, raising awareness of the value and importance of the capital’s trees and getting communities (including volunteers) involved in planting new trees and maintaining the existing “urban forest”.  Alongside this the London Plan encourages the protection and maintenance of trees and the planting of new trees and woodlands. 

1.2     Commercial Partners ‘For the Love of Trees – London’ Programme

The GLA undertook a process to identify a commercial partner to support the programme.  A number of companies in different sectors were approached for this purpose, and Unilever proposed a partnership which included a contribution of £80,000 to augment the programme.  This will support three distinct projects which have been joined together under the term ‘For the Love of Trees - London’: mass tree planting with Trees for Cities; free trees for London schools with The Woodland Trust; and the publication of the iTree Eco report with Forestry Commission. 

This DD seeks approval to enter into a sponsorship agreement with Unilever, a global consumer goods manufacturer, to provide a contribution of £80,000 to support the programme and the entry into grant agreements for the three initiatives.  


Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The objectives of the partnership and the grants are to:

•    Increase the engagement of Londoners in enhancing their local communities through tree planting. 
•    Highlight the value of trees in London’s ‘urban forest’ 

Each of the three project elements has specific objectives and expected outcomes:

2.2    A. Mass tree-planting events with Trees for Cities
Up to £50,000 of the sponsorship income has been allocated to fund mass tree planting activity with Trees for Cities from November 2015 to March 2016 at King George’s Field in Ealing. 

Ealing was selected as a location for mass tree planting by Trees for Cities due to a number of factors, including that as it has available land which has been identified as available and suitable for tree planting by the local authority, as well as that planting in this specific location offers the opportunity to improve an underused site. Ealing council is  contributing £15,000 towards the mass tree-planting project. They have secured landowner permission.  Small sampling trees will be planted around the perimeter of the playing field to ensure that the open play areas remain.

The project involves creating a new urban woodland by planting up to 20,000 trees using volunteers, local community groups, and staff from the Unilever and Greater London Authority (GLA). The planting will be undertaken over a number of days through November 2015-March 2016, including a weekend community mass planting day. 

King George’s Field is a large 29.5 acre playing field in Southall. The site is open and underused by the local community. It does have some unmarked football pitches which will remain unplanted. The proposed project is to transform part of the amenity grassland and to create native woodland edge habitat by planting up to 20,000 whips, fruit trees and shrubs for foraging, natural play and biodiversity. Tress for Cities (TfC) will engage and consult the local community to ensure that the planting scheme meets local need, including recreation ground users, residents, local businesses, local groups, schools, local service providers and councillors. TfC will also involve the local community and community groups in community planting days and volunteering opportunities. 

2.3    B. Tree-planting with schools 

Up to £15,000 of the sponsorship income has been allocated to fund free tree packs for schools in London. These will be distributed through the existing Woodland Trust tree packs scheme, but funding would be ring-fenced for London and the GLA will work with Team London to promote the tree packs to Team London schools. 

The Woodland Trust already distributes free tree packs to schools and community groups across the country. The tree packs come in a variety of sizes and themes to suit different spaces. Schools can choose from packs of 30, 105 or 420 trees. The number of packs provided through this additional funding in London will vary depending on the sizes of packs requested by schools, however it is estimated that it will provide up 20,000 trees, to at least 500 schools. Applications for tree packs will close in January 2016, and the packs will be distributed in March 2016. 

2.4    C. London i-Tree project 
The Mayor of London, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the London Tree Officers Association, has undertaken an i-Tree Eco assessment of London. i-Tree is a recognised method of valuing the economic benefits such as carbon sequestration and air pollutant removal that trees provide; it was devised by the US Forest Service and has been used throughout the world to demonstrate the value of the ‘urban forest.’ 

The Mayor of London and the Forestry Commission are currently preparing the evaluation report which will consist of a technical report for policy–makers and decision-makers, and a public-facing summary document designed to raise the awareness of Londoners of the value of the cities trees. These will be produced and published in November 2015. 

Up to £15,000 of the sponsorship has been allocated to produce and promote this report, which is being co-ordinated by the Forestry Commission, London. 

2.5    Sponsor Benefits
Unilever will receive a range of benefits as part of this partnership, including the right to attribute to the sponsor the planting of 20,000 trees in King George’s Field in Ealing, the availability of up to 20,000 trees to be distributed to London schools and the inclusion of the sponsor brand in the iTree London report. This programme of activity will be known as ‘For the Love of Trees – London’ and will provide a valuable contribution towards the GLA’s ambitions to encourage individual Londoners, businesses and organisations to plant and protect more trees. 


Equality comments

3.1    This programme aims to increase tree cover in London and improve the quality of existing green spaces through tree planting. Londoners living in more deprived areas often suffer particularly from a lack of access to local green spaces and live in areas with less tree canopy cover. The mass tree planting project in Ealing will take place in an area where local residents are within the 5% most deprived level within England (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010).  

3.2    Tress for Cities (TfC) will engage and consult the local community to ensure that the planting scheme meets local need.  They are experienced in community engagement, and seek to bring all of the community together for tree planting events. For this project they have partnerships with Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) and Mitzvah Day (Mitzvah Day aims to promote the view that it is everyone’s responsibility to create an accessible environment and encourage all their partners to play their part in a very practical, hands-on way to support, embrace and encourage inclusivity in their community and beyond). 

3.3    The Woodland Trust tree packs will be promoted to Team London’s network of over 1000 schools, with the aim to ensure that schools in every London borough benefit from the scheme.

3.4    The iTree report will be produced with consideration to making it accessible to Londoners, with non-technical summaries available for volunteers and the public.


Other considerations

a) key risks and issues 

4.1    A key risk in entering into this sponsorship agreement with Unilever is that the GLA is agreeing to deliver to the sponsor a range of benefits over which it does not have direct control. The GLA is therefore also signing grant agreements with the delivery partners (Trees for Cities, The Woodland Trust, and Forestry Commission London). These sponsorship agreements will contain the objectives outlined above in section 2, so that the GLA has an agreed mechanism of delivering the sponsor benefits. 

b) links to Mayoral strategies and priorities 

4.2    The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy includes an objective to increase tree canopy cover from 20% to 25% by 2025 (and a further 5% by 2050). This target is reflected in Policy 7.21of the London Plan. The primary rationale for this increase relates to the potential for an increase in canopy cover to help off-set the predicted impacts of climate change; but it also recognises a number of other potential benefits including: enhancing biodiversity; improving air quality; enhancing local amenity and maintaining London’s reputation as one of the greenest big cities.

c) impact assessments and consultations.

4.3    No further impact assessment is required in respect of the decisions for which approval is sought under this Decision Form.

4.4    Trees for Cities will be carrying out local consultation in respect of the planned tree planting in King George’s Field in Ealing. 

d) resource implications

4.5    The management of the 'For the Love of Trees - London' programme is estimated to require 0.1 FTE of GLA staff time (for programme management). The programme is short term, requiring resource over the period October-December 2015 of the project setup and main activity. This is not significantly above the staff resource in place to manage the GLA's existing trees and greening budgets and programmes. The Unilever sponsorship income will therefore all be spent on funding project delivery rather than contributing to the resourcing of GLA staff. Additionally the GLA has agreed to provide press support to promote the programme. 

Sponsorship funding will usually require an element of match funding to run a project, therefore GLA staff time will be provided to co-ordinate the project and ensure appropriate agreements are in place. The use of GLA staff resource will contribute to meeting corporate objectives around increasing canopy cover and engaging Londoners in volunteering activities. 


Financial comments

5.1    Approval is sought for the GLA to enter into a sponsorship agreement with Unilever for the programme ‘For the Love of Trees - London’ and the receipt of £80,000 from Unilever.  Further approval is requested for the entry into grant agreements with three organisations to support three separate initiatives detailed under section 2 above.

5.2    All of the income and spend will take place within 2015-16 and officers should ensure that they invoice Unilever for the sponsorship income before entering into grant agreements with the three organisations.  

5.3    There is no cost to or contribution required from the GLA in entering this agreement.


Planned delivery approach and next steps

The programme will commence in November 2015 and run to March 2016.




Sign sponsorship agreement

By 16 November 2015

Sponsor invoiced

 On signing of sponsorship agreement

Announcement of ‘For The Love of Trees – London’ partnership

22 November 2015

Tree planting starts in Ealing

22 November 2015

iTree Report published

Late November 2015

Free tree packs promoted to London schools via Team London

Nov/Dec 2015

Tree packs distributed to London schools

7-11 March 2016

Planting of 20,000 trees complete in Ealing

By 18 March 2016

Woodland Trust and Trees for Cities final reports to GLA and invoice

By 31 March 2016


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