Biodiversity and tree planting improvements within the Borough of Gravesham
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) and the Parks and Open Space Manager provided an update on work regarding biodiversity and tree planting in the borough and outlined the plans for the next 12 months.
· It is a significant piece of work but work has started and will be completed by the end of this financial year.
· Towards the end of 2021/22 there were 3,174 trees planted in a number of locations, 146 were standards and heavy standards and the remainder whips that were planted as natural boundaries and as part of memorial and rewilding areas.
· Wildflowers were introduced at 12 locations within the borough and we had more success at some sites than others due to the hot summer but it’s hoped there will be growth in those areas next year.
· The report outlines positive steps by us in taking a different approach to the lake at the Prom to encourage a natural habitat to increase wildlife.
· The bee garden at Windmill Hill has expanded to include flower beds.
· There has been 20 bat, bird and owl boxes installed in various locations in the borough to promote habitat for wildlife and whilst it will take many years we are confident they are in the right location.
· The council is making every effort to enhance open spaces but also defining the urban space for people to enjoy tranquillity as well as space for light physical exercise for animals and owners. There is a need to improve the aesthetics for social benefits as well as an opportunity for biodiversity. This will be done by developing an identity for each of the parks and open spaces in the borough (Heritage/Biodiversity/Leisure).
· The council are also now part of the newly formed Kent and Medway Plan Tree Partnership Steering Group and Delivery Group to review the overall tree strategy to increase coverage in Gravesham by 8% by 2030.
· Continuing to increase planting heavy standard trees across the borough. In the process or ordering 150 heavy standard trees which bring a faster sequestering of carbon and habitat of wildlife.
· To assist the overall efforts for tree planting we will work with DEFRA approved charities such as MORE: Trees and Trees for Cities and KCC programmes like ‘Trees outside Woodlands’ to soften landscape by planting natural hedgerows.
· As well as planting new trees it is essential to look after what we have and so we will be using recycled woodchip as mulch to contain moisture.
· With the help of Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) funding and North Kent Countryside Partnership we are proposing to plant ferns, heathers, lowland shrubs and trees to encourage and protect wildlife.
· Moving into the second phase of the Gordon Lake with the continued development of the surrounding of the lake by planting suitable water reed and vegetation to encourage birdlife and offer protection from the elements. This will include the development of a more sustainable water filtration system, energy-efficient water aeration system and floating island water beds that will offer controlled colour, habitat for wildlife and remove harmful metals and nutrients from the water. This will remove the need for the current system which has an electric bill of over £6k.
· The council were successful in a bid from LTC to work with ecologists and KCC specialists on a chalk grassland feature at the Warren. There will be a trial of wildflower seed mixes.
· Litter is very evident at the lake on the Prom but the team now have waders so the lake can be cleaned.
Members felt that very few people in the borough know how much work we are doing so it’s important to do more publicity of what we are doing and why. We don’t want to be slowed down by other organisations, we need to get on and do what we are doing by 2030. There is a lot to celebrate and we need to do that loud and clear.
The Chair congratulated Nicole Arthur on the work she has been doing to plant the boats in the borough.
The Climate Change Advisory Board noted the contents of the report.