The Natural Environment in the Royal Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan
Personal statement by Carol O'Toole
The Natural Environment Re: section 4.6
Aim 'to increase climate change resilience in Green infrastructure'
Trees and Biodiversity are Natural Capitol and must be given priority in The Carbon Neutral Plan, and be included as an integral part of Planning, New Development, Building, Transport, and Health and Well Being.
Trees and ecosystems form the basis of the carbon cycle by storing Carbon Dioxide and have a key role in counteracting climate change. Mature trees improve Air Quality, regulate ambient temperature, and improve flood protection. Conservation of mature trees, and established habitats rich in biodiversity ,are not emphasised or guaranteed in The Plan. This is particularly important in relation to Mature, native trees.
The Plan proposes to plant more saplings, but does not consider where or when this will be most effective in combatting Climate Change.
Saplings can take at least 50 years to reach full potential and mitigate for the removal of Mature Trees. So will have a low initial positive contribution to the current plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
The proposal to collect baseline data on tree cover, and carbon storage is commendable, but the essential methodology and scientific rigour must be planned and overseen by independent experts. Similarly the intention to expand tree canopy and hedgerows in parks and open spaces.
Mature street trees play a vital role in reducing PM2.5 particulate pollution produced by all road transport, including electric vehicles.
Existing biodiversity and public health must be protected and enhanced by stopping the indiscriminate use of herbicides, particularly Glyphosate, which is used by RBG on a routine basis in streets, and public green open spaces.
It is illogical to place 'The Natural Environment' in a separate box in RBG Carbon Neutral Plan. It must be recognised as a functioning part of the policy framework which includes land use, new building, air quality, transport, infrastructure development and health & wellbeing.