Heatwave: Your trees need YOU!

Friday, 15th July — By Charlotte Chambers

Hennie Farstad McKeown age 8 with Luella Facer age 11

Hennie Farstad McKeown, 8, with Luella Facer, 11, have been out watering

RESIDENTS are being urged to “adopt a tree”– and help it through the heatwave and beyond.

Lucy Facer of Islington Clean Air Parents (ICAP) has called on people to take notice of the new trees on their streets and take emergency action by watering them as much as possible.  She said that as they haven’t grown deep roots like older trees they may need up to 40 litres of water a day during the high temperatures.

The Met Office has warned a record-breaking summer is looming with some forecasts suggesting a “heatdome” will lock Europe into sweltering conditions for weeks.

Ms Facer said plants that are looked after by the community have a 95 per cent chance of survival, while those unattended were much more likely to perish.

“It’s an emergency. We need to get out there today otherwise they will die,” she said, describing how she and her family and neighbours have been carrying out an emergency production line of watering for their street trees in Holloway.

“We’ve been out there every night carrying litres and litres of water,” she said.

“They need a massive drink. With this dry spring and now some extreme hot weather conditions these trees are under even more stress. Their water bags have dried out and the young trees aren’t established enough to cope with it. We’ve seen a lot of trees with dried out leaves.”

The warning signs to look out for are brown or dried leaves or even a bare tree where the leaves have entirely fallen off, she said.

Seven hundred new trees were planted by Islington Council over the past 12 months – 170 of those came from ICAP after they raised £15,000 through crowdfunding.

Ms Facer is worried that all their fundraising and hard work organising the planting of Islington Forest for Change trees will be wasted if they are not cared for properly at this early stage in their life.

She said it was “ironic” that the trees are now falling victim to climate change and extreme heat when they have been planted to help address the crisis.

Islington has around a 25 per cent street tree canopy. The tipping point to combat climate change is 40 per cent.

Environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said: “Trees help us to make our streets healthier, greener and happier places, and increase our resilience to climate change. During hot weather spells, they are vital for providing much-needed shade in our public areas. In return, we need to give them a bit more attention to make sure they stay hydrated.

“The council is watering the trees but we encourage everyone to help us out by watering the trees in their neighbourhood, especially the newly planted ones.”

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