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In 2011 two residents of Brockley started Brockley Society’s street tree campaign, working in partnership with Lewisham council to facilitate the
planting of trees across the borough. It is now known as Street Trees for Living (STfL), a friendly and open organisation that engages with the local community and continues to work closely with Lewisham Council offering support to those who wish to have trees planted on their street.

Since 2012, STfL has planted over 600 street trees and the difference it is making in the borough, considering the small amount of staff involved, is phenomenal. Its success for me lies in how the core members of the STfL team work with the residents across the borough, as well as with Lewisham Council. They run an innovative scheme whereby they support local residents to raise funds, choose tree species and locations, and encourage residents to become Street Reps and Tree Guardians.

Street Reps go door-to-door, canvassing local residents on their street to find like-minded neighbours in support of trees (and also usually neighbours who aren’t!) They raise the necessary funds and work with STfL and Lewisham Council to choose species and locations to suit all residents, whether tree enthusiasts or not. Tree Guardians then take it from there and water the trees for the first two years before they are established.

This system not only enables street tree planting in any street of the borough, but also gives the residents control of what is happening on their doorstep. In my personal experience as a Street Rep it offered me the opportunity to get to know my Catford neighbours (where I’d been living for five years) and I have consequently struck up lasting friendships with neighbours I may have continued to walk past every day for another five years!

Five reasons why Streets for Living works
1. Engages with residents on their doorstep
2. Provides community with ownership of the trees and encourages community involvement
3. Provides a coherent watering, maintenance and auditing system
4. Has a successful working relationship with Lewisham Council
5. Is run by a hard working and dedicated team

As a Street Rep for Street Trees for Living I planted three crab apples on my street. It was such a pleasure that I took it a step further and secured sponsorship for street trees outside my children’s primary school. I made great contacts with local businesses and the council and planted seven maples opposite the school. This somehow led to a complete transformation of the school playground - once a bleak expanse of concrete – and now housing thirty trees and two sensory gardens!

I am currently a Street Trees for Living committee member and it is my turn to help discover and support Street Reps and Tree Guardians and so it continues… I am already meeting more lovely people on my doorstep and hope to see an increasing number of beautiful urban street trees thrive within my community. 

Street Trees for Living is now an independent charity.

You can read all about it at www.streettreesforliving.org

 

 

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