Kings Lynn Civis Society Norfolk

Street Trees for Lynn


King's Lynn Civic Society are pleased to have helped launch a new initiative to plant more trees within King's Lynn. The project has been established in conjunction with the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk (BCKLWN) and the Groundwork Art Gallery, Purfleet Street. Launched in April 2017, the simple goal for the first year of the project is to plant 10 new trees that can provide long-term environmental benefits for the town.

KLCS have been lobbying BCKLWN for several years regarding the need to safeguard and enhance 'green infrastructure' provision within the urban area. The matter has been particularly brought into focus by the plan for substantial urban expansion in and around the town in coming years - some of which will be delivered by building on existing green space. We are therefore very pleased that BCKLWN have agreed to take this project forward.

Trees are a key component of 'green infrastructure' in any urban area - being important for shade, shelter, cooling and cleaning the atmosphere, enhancing amenity and supporting urban wildlife. And with climate scientists predicting more extreme weather events in future, the role of trees will become more important in urban areas.

But urban trees are in trouble. Increasing urban density, the need for on-street parking, the expansion of above- and below-ground services - all restrict the places trees can be planted. A range of new diseases are also threatening many trees - the latest being 'ash dieback', which has killed 80% of ash trees in other parts of Europe.

Street Trees for Lynn aims to identify new places to plant trees within the town. Ideally these will be large, long-lived trees that can provide a contribution to the town for generations to come. Planting positions could be on public or private land - but obviously we need the landowner's support and we need to make sure the new trees have the space to mature without conflicting with buildings, pavements and services.

  • Can you suggest a suitable place for a new tree to grace King's Lynn in coming decades?
  • Do you know a landowner who might support this project?
  • New tree planting can be expensive as for a tree to thrive in an urban setting, a whole new tree pit may need constructing. Could you support this project financially - with a donation or endowment?

If you think you can help, please write or email King's Lynn Civic Society (see Contacts page).

 Why are Urban Trees so important?

I like trees, but ... can be a conversational cliche. Particularly in urban areas, trees often get the blame for shading buildings, lifting pavements, or dropping 'too many' leaves. Some species suffer from aphids, which then drop a sticky residue on cars. Trees are regularly blamed for structural problems in buildings - although the truth is that this is usually only relevant in the presence of particular kinds of clay soils.

The facts are that trees are actually incredibly beneficial – especially in urban areas. In our world of climate change, where more extreme weather events, hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters are predicted to become the 'norm', trees are considered by many planning experts to be an essential aspect of 21st-century urban design. Some important jobs that trees perform include:

Absorbing CO2 / Producing O2. Many modern activities lead to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) – one of the main reasons for global warming. Trees absorb CO2 as they grow. In the same process they produce oxygen. It is estimated that in one year, an acre of woodland can absorb CO2 equivalent to that produced in exhaust from 26,000 miles of car journey.

Cleaning urban air. Studies show that trees absorb large amounts of potentially poisonous atmospheric gases such as nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide and ozone. They also filter dust and particulates from the air, greatly enhancing the air we breathe in our towns and cities.

Cooling and humidifying our streets. In hot weather, heat from pavements and buildings, as well as air conditioning systems, creates a cycle of rising temperatures often making towns and cities 5-10 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. Trees provide shade and water vapour that cools hot streets and buildings.

'Managing' water. Trees intercept a lot of rainfall, thus stopping so much runoff after a storm - which helps prevent flooding downstream. They also absorb a lot of water from the ground and by trapping dust and particulates help to prevent water pollution. They help prevent soil erosion.

Improving urban energy efficiency. Trees help to shade streets and buildings in summer and provide shelter from winds and eddies.

Enhancing urban amenity. Trees screen unsightly views and can soften and enhance a street scene. They provide seasonal variety and colour.

Supporting urban wildlife. Urban trees provide a home, food and shelter for a large range of animals and birds that give pleasure to many people.

Provide 'white noise'. Trees can help to buffer urban noise. The sound of a breeze in leaves, or the sound of birdsong is much more pleasing and relaxing to hear than traffic and other man-made sounds. Many studies show this is conducive to human health.

And these are not just 'nice to have' benefits. Studies show that the direct benefits of trees can be equated to millions of pounds worth of savings to health budgets, pollution control and carbon management schemes. They can even improve property values – in some studies by up to 15%!


Right Tree - Right Place

The important thing is to get the right tree in the right place. Planting a Cedar tree in your backyard is unlikely to end well (Cedar species can generally reach over 40 metres in height and 20 metres in width!).

On the other hand, small ornamental trees like many flowering cherries are relatively short-lived and are not big enough to provide a lot of the benefits listed above. A big stately tree can really enhance a setting and the wider environment. Just look at some of the trees beside the Greyfriars Tower or in some of our churchyards in Lynn.

Is this the right choice for your hedge?

Trees need large, free-draining tree pits. Few trees will tolerate compacted or flooded soils.


King's Lynn is short of trees.

Outside of a few of our best public spaces (e.g. the Walks), King's Lynn doesn't have many trees. This is partly historical. The older part of the town has very narrow streets. The riverfront probably never had many trees as it was a working quay. However, we have also lost trees from the town centre - where denser development and the need for wider streets and parking areas have not allowed space for trees.

Space for a tree? Kennedy Way.

There are other concerns. Ash dieback disease has killed 80% of all ash trees in parts of Europe and is now sweeping across the UK. Ash is one of the most common trees in the UK and if we lose them in coming years, they will leave a huge gap in our landscapes. Other diseases are affecting Oaks, Horse chestnuts and Plane trees.

King's Lynn is also a fast-growing town, with many new developments planned - some of them on existing open spaces within the town. Some existing trees will be lost. We need to plant new trees so that our children and grandchildren reap the benefits. We need to ensure that King's Lynn is an attractive 'green' place to live and work in the future.


Other Links

See Launch of this Initiative:

Find out about Tree Preservation in West Norfolk:

Find out about our partners - The Groundwork Gallery:

Find out about the Trees and Design Action Group:

Find out about the charity Trees for Cities:

Statistic obtained from TreePeople website - Feb 2017

In Feb 2017 the World Health Organisation reported that throughout the world, 1: 9 people die due to air pollution. This is not just a 'third world' phenomena. In January 2017 London was reported to have had worse air quality than Beijing due to winter smog.

Registered charity no. 298916
Contact details
Alison Gifford
19B Queen Street
King's Lynn
PE30 1HT
01553 763983
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