We All Need Trees

The Islington Green Party councillor Caroline Russell described the results of a study that measures the levels of pollution as ‘shocking and very worrying’.

She said, ‘Almost all school locations tested were exposed to “illegal air” – some almost twice the legal limit. Even the one school that scraped in under the legal limit is exposed to health damaging pollution.’

A recent newspaper poll said that 71 per cent of parents polled cited air pollution as their top health concern.

It should be stated that in many of the UK’s cities children are exposed to “illegal air”, and this is in clear breach of EU standards.

We started the LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT in Islington, London because that is where we live and work, and where our children went to school. To discover that the whole of the London Borough of Islington has been declared an Air Quality Management Area with concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 10) which exceed the UK air quality standards, was completely shocking to us, so we decided to do something practical.

The truth is that trees are our friends. Planting trees to help counter air pollution in inner cities is one of the cheapest, most cost effective means of drawing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

From Islington’s arboricultural department we learned that trees planted in or near schools could help absorb particulates. A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 21.6 kg/year, and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings.

Research has also shown a 60% reduction in particulates from exhaust fumes in tree-lined streets.

Sadly, it is the disadvantaged children who suffer most from air pollution in our cities, and so it is those children who will benefit most from this environmental program. THE LITTLE FIR TREE PROJECT aims to raise awareness and leave a lasting legacy for future generations; adults and children who will enjoy a London greener than it is today.