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First trees planted on A61(South) Connecting Leeds scheme to celebrate National Tree Week

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Leeds City Council’s Connecting Leeds team have planted the first trees along their A61(South) scheme.

The tree planting forms part of a wider project set to improve the corridor by introducing the provision of new bus lanes, a range of bus priority measures, 3.5km of junction improvements and new dedicated walking and cycling routes.

Once complete in June 2021, people who use the corridor will benefit from a less congested, safer route, faster journey times, improved bus waiting facilities and more greenery. By the end of the scheme there will be a net gain of over 60 trees along the route, including cherry, silver birch, oak and carpinus.

Further works along the corridor include:

  • A dedicated bus lane from the Thwaite Gate area both into and out of the city centre.
  • Provision of a fully segregated cycle track from the Thwaite Gate area both into and out of the city centre.
  • Major junction improvement at the Thwaite Gate/Wakefield Road/Pontefract Lane junction, to improve junction capacity.
  • Improvements to all junctions along the Low Road and Hunslet Road route.
  • Junction widening to enable the provision of the bus and cycle lanes in both directions.

Across the wider Connecting Leeds programme, there will be a net gain of over 12,000 trees planted by spring 2022. These make a contribution to the council’s ambition to double the city’s tree canopy cover in response to the Climate Emergency.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, Councillor Lisa Mulherin said:

“This scheme will provide major benefits for residents living and working in the inner south of our city. Not only will people be able to enjoy a greener and more attractive journey but the new walking and cycling routes will make the option of leaving cars at home and choosing to travel by foot or bike more attractive. The bus priority measures and junction improvements will significantly ease congestion, making public transport journeys faster and buses more reliable.”

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment and active lifestyles said:

“We are absolutely committed to bringing more greenery and woodland to our city and suburban areas and the trees which are being planted this week along this route play just a small part in that initiative.

“Working with local Councillors Mohammed Iqbal, Elizabeth Nash and Paul Wray, we have worked really hard to ensure that for every one tree lost, there will be a further three semi-mature trees planted in its place.

“These trees not only work to reduce carbon and create cleaner air but they also have major holistic benefits. Improvements to people’s mental health and space for nature to nest are just a few of those.”

National Tree Week is the UK’s biggest annual tree celebration. It was originally called Plant A Tree in ‘73, and started in 1973 in response to Dutch Elm Disease – a tree disease that stops them from getting water properly. It’s all about getting lots of communities to do more to help their local environment by planting as many trees as they can.

Trees are a very important part of our ecosystem. They take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and put out oxygen. They help keep our air clean which is vital to keep climate change under control. Nutrients in the soil come from trees, which helps lots of other plants grow. Hundreds of kinds of wildlife, like birds, bugs, and squirrels as well as other kinds of plants all live in or on trees. Without them, countless animals would lose their homes or sources of food.

The main focus of National Tree Week is planting more trees, and there’s a lot you can do both in school and in your community. If you have space, why not plant some of your own trees together? Getting to have a direct hand in planting trees is a great learning opportunity and a lasting memory.

Source Leeds City Council