As seen on TV – Bradford’s now famous tree projects

27 January 2021 - Published by Ellen Kelder
Bradford's tree project was featured on primetime UK television last month! The project featured on BBC's Countryfile as part of a much bigger plan by Bradford Council and its partners to plant more trees and create green spaces across the district.

In the episode (now available on BBC iPlayer for those located in the UK) presenter Anita Rani launched the Plant Britain campaign – a two-year national drive to get people planting to help combat climate change and improve health, wellbeing and wildlife.

Anita and the film crew visited the Little Horton area, showcasing work to plant trees in Horton Park Primary School’s field and to bring trees and plants to homes and streets on the Canterbury estate.


Anita Rani (left) and BEGIN's Saira Ali (right)

The school field project is transforming the underused site into an attractive area for local families. It is one of a number of projects designed by Bradford Council’s Landscape Design and Conservation Team and is primarily funded by the National Lottery. It aims to help children in the Better Start Bradford area (Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton) get the best start in life. The team is achieving this by creating safer and healthier places for families and young children and showing how improving and investing in the local environment can have a positive impact on children’s physical and emotional wellbeing.

Additional funding has come from Horizon 2020 LIFE Critical - a BEGIN spin-off project - part of the EU Life Programme which supports environmental, nature conservation, and climate action projects through citizen engagement and participation; also the Emergency Active Travel Fund Tranche 1, which allows for the inclusion of paths that link Horton Park to the local school and the Canterbury estate.

The programme also showed the work of the Festival of Trees at Canterbury Estate in which the Better Place team offered free trees and shrubs to residents. A total of 146 fruit trees and shrubs and 41 large specimen trees were planted on the day!

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Portfolio Holder for Healthy People and Places, said: “The Countryfile programme highlighted some of the fantastic work being done by the council and partner organisations to increase the number of trees in our district which both aid climate action and improve people’s health and wellbeing.”


Saira Ali, Team Leader Landscape Design and Conservation Bradford Council and Bradford representative on the White Rose Forest board, said: “We are working on projects district-wide to create and improve green spaces that are inclusive and welcoming, some of which will improve access with pathways that are imaginative, linking routes and green space to promote active travel.

“These will hopefully encourage everyone to scoot, cycle or walk more, as any contact with green, natural spaces improves our health and wellbeing. We only need to look at the effects of the first Covid lockdown to notice the added benefits of reducing vehicle use and cutting toxic air pollution and traffic noise.

“Planting trees with the children meant so much more than just adding trees to our scheme; it was an opportunity to 'put something back' into the environment and, over time, encourage birds, insects and other creatures into the habitat. It's the small joys that bring us closer to nature and each other.

“Trees make it possible for us to live in cities, they provide homes for insects, birds and bats, they cheer us up, they provide shade and cooling, they clean up polluted air, soak up rain and capture carbon to slow climate change and release oxygen for us to breathe.”


Planting trees is a major factor in tackling climate change – a single tree can absorb 22kg of carbon dioxide per year and 100 square metres of woodland can store nearly four tonnes. The Council’s Trees and Woodlands Team has already increased Bradford's woodland areas by 23 hectares (three per cent) between 2012 and 2019. The Council is allocating £250K to plant a tree for every primary school child in the district – approximately 55,000 trees.

Bob Thorp, Senior Parks and Green Spaces Manager responsible for trees said: “We have a lot of work to do: 13% of Bradford districts area is covered by trees today but we need to increase that to roughly 20% of the land area by 2050 to reach net-zero carbon targets.  In other words, we would have to plant between 1 million and 3.5 million trees. In practice that will mean converting the districts agricultural grassland to either woodland or wood-pasture, a type of management that mixes livestock, mowing and trees.  These trees will suck up carbon, help biodiversity and reduce flooding.  Trees are not however, a “silver bullet” for the climate emergency –we must also radically reduce our fossil fuel use in transport, heating and commodities if trees are going to be of any help”.

Bradford has teamed up with the Trees for Cities charity which works to connect urban populations with nature, cultivate lasting change and deliver the multiple benefits of urban trees for today's and future generations.

Adele Adams, Better Place Project Manager, said: ‘’It’s wonderful to watch a space transform through people wanting to make positive changes and working closely with them to create something that works for the community and our environment.  The new trees will bring flowers in spring, calming green and cooling shade in the summer, beautiful autumnal colour and support soil structure in the winter. Some will provide fruit for us and our wildlife to eat. The benefits of trees are infinite and as they grow so will the children of our communities.’’


More information

Better Place Bradford project will deliver:

  • Access to high-quality green spaces and outdoor play facilities that are important to children’s health and wellbeing, such as parks, playgrounds and woodland to connect with nature.
  • Opportunities for children to play and enjoy nature, looking for opportunities to ‘reclaim’ spaces for families’ use.
  • Access to safe, high-quality routes and spaces for families to walk and exercise, so they can get around through healthy, safe, affordable and enjoyable means.
  • Air quality in the local area, especially in places where children live and play, considering how local sources of pollution can be addressed and how we can help protect pregnant women and children from exposure to fumes.

Better Start Bradford is part of the ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million National Lottery funded A Better Start programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication. The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.

Trees for Cities is the only UK charity working at a national and international scale to improve lives by planting trees in cities. It works with local communities to cultivate lasting change in their neighbourhoods – whether it’s revitalising forgotten spaces, creating healthier environments or getting people excited about growing, foraging and eating healthy food. 



This news item is adapted from a article