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Streets Ahead ensures street tree species diversity for years to come

street with trees

 3 July 2017

Sheffield streets are home to an increasingly varied street tree stock thanks to the Streets Ahead contract.

As part of the 25 year highway maintenance contract around 6,000 of Sheffield’s 36,000 street trees are set to be replaced by the end of 2017, with 600 additional trees being planted before the end of the programme.

Over 65,000 trees have been planted across Sheffield in the last three years, including those planted as part of the Streets Ahead contract and those in parks and woodlands included in the Council’s community forestry programme.

After years of under-investment, Sheffield streets are now benefiting from a long-term highway maintenance programme which will ensure a replenished and managed street tree stock for generations to come.

Cabinet member for Environment and Street Scene at Sheffield City Council, Councillor Bryan Lodge said: “Streets Ahead is working towards a sustainable and balanced tree stock for Sheffield which means our streets can benefit from a varied age and species profile of street trees to complement the large number of trees in the city.

“Many of the trees on our streets were planted in the Victorian era when traffic levels were significantly lower and the environment was very different. Streets Ahead offers us a unique window of funding with the opportunity to adapt to a changing street scene and secure a greener landscape for the future.

“The street trees which were planted at the beginning of the contract are now established and complementing the vast and varied tree stock which is evident across Sheffield.”

Throughout the programme, Streets Ahead arboriculture professionals are selecting replacement trees from an approved list of UK grown tree species which are suitable for Sheffield’s modern highway environment.

The trees are specifically selected to cope with Sheffield’s climate and have the best possible chances of surviving temperature fluctuations, nutritionally poor soils, winter maintenance salt treatments and the challenging urban environment.

Many of the trees selected are native species such as Oak, Beech and Rowan which all support and attract a diverse wildlife population such as birds, bats and bees. In addition, Streets Ahead have planted a new variety of disease resistant Elm trees at various sites across the city to help replenish the  Elms lost during the 1970’s and 1980’s Dutch Elm disease outbreak.

The early establishment of healthy trees that thrive to maturity is key to maximising the environmental benefits that trees bring to the city. All species selected are chosen with suitability and sustainability in mind, including the consideration of future pruning requirements and potential obstructions to both structures and people.

Streets Ahead has a good establishment rate of new tree plantings and to date, out of over 4,000 trees planted since 2012, less than 1% of trees have failed to establish. The small number of trees that have failed have been replaced.

Streets Ahead Operations Manager, Jeremy Willis said:

“In 2012 when the Sheffield Streets Ahead contract started, the four most common species of trees accounted for a total of 36% of Sheffield’s street tree stock. These four species were Maple, Ash, Cherry and Lime.

“The Streets Ahead contract has been able to replace dead, dying, diseased, discriminatory, dangerous and damaging trees with a wider variety of species which is helping to increase the biodiversity and age profile of the city’s tree stock and provide resilience against any future disease outbreaks.”