A North East Council is redoubling its efforts to protect, maintain and expand its tree cover.

Durham County Council is adding extra resources to its tree and specialist arborist teams to help maintain the county’s trees and ensure they remain healthy and preserved.

Measures include doubling the current numbers of professional arborists as well as expanding its tree teams, who undertake works countywide.

The extra staff will help improve the early detection of unsafe trees and weak branches across County Durham, highlighting any essential works that need to be carried out.

Council Branches Out With Boost For Tree Teams
Cllr Mark Wilkes (back right) with Durham County Council’s tree team

This will not only aid the county’s resilience in responding to storm damage, allowing for a quicker recovery, but the proactive approach will help to ensure that early signs of weaker trees are quickly spotted and rectified.

The council is also looking to expand its tree cover so that the right trees are in the right place, improving biodiversity and carbon absorption as well as boosting the county’s landscape and recreational spaces.

Extra staff resources are hoped to be in place by the summer, which will support existing teams in proactive management of the council’s trees.

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “Recent storms have highlighted the vital role and importance of our tree teams. We want to get ahead in this area, by not only increasing the resources in this valuable front-line service, but also boosting our proactive surveys, especially in the light of threats such as fungal diseases which cause ash tree die-back.

“It is important that we also protect and expand our county’s tree cover and preserve the climate benefits that they provide us with, such as carbon absorption and providing important habitats for wildlife, as well as the improvement they provide to our own wellbeing.”

The council has already planted over one million trees in the last 20 years and has ambitious plans to plant a further 366 hectares (the equivalent of 500 playing fields) by 2030, as part of projects such as the North East Community Forest, Durham Woodland Revival and Urban Tree Challenge Fund.

In the long term this coverage will help absorb nearly 5,000 tonnes of carbon a year. The council is also reviewing its tree planting options which could see targets increased.

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