LAST weekend, Llanelli’s MP Nia Griffith convened a meeting to discuss a Women’s Institute natural heritage project to preserve, protect and plant urban trees. The project aims to reverse the declining trend in urban tree cover, three quarters of which has been lost in Wales since 2010.

The Women’s Institute (WI) aims to plant one tree for every member of their organisation. The meeting on Saturday brought together representatives from the Woodland Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Tree Sisters, Parc Howard Association, Llanerch Residents, Incredible Edible Carmarthenshire and other organisations to discuss how to make progress towards this goal in Llanelli and surrounding areas.

Angela Thomas, who is coordinating this project for the Llanelli area, explained: “A recent survey has shown that the vast majority of WI members are concerned about climate change.

“This tree project is a very practical way that we can help mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as having a more immediate impact on local areas, by improving the quality of air in our towns and reducing flood risk.”

Ms Thomas is working with fellow WI members Cllr Mair Stephens, who is Chair of the Federations of Wales committee and Julie Joliffe, who spoke at Saturday’s meeting alongside Jerry Langford from the Woodland Trust. They are working with councils and schools to find land and volunteers for tree-planting, using a digital database to record all plantations of new trees and other findings such as tree health and local infrastructure.

Nia Griffith MP said: “It was great to see so many people at our meeting with the Women’s Institute last weekend, and so much enthusiasm for this project to green our towns and cities with trees.

“There is lots now for us to do to make things happen. Community groups can apply to the Woodland Trust for trees, councillors can identify land where trees can be planted and we can all survey trees in our local area and feed information into the Treezilla and OPAL websites. If you are interested in getting involved, please do get in touch with me or the local Women’s Institute.

“We are lucky in Carmarthenshire that we can enjoy so much greenery, but, as is so often the case, if we don’t look after things, we are in danger of losing them. The public have already shown their huge support for parks like Parc Howard, but we need to look at the wider urban area. There is no doubt that this urban tree project will help to reduce pollution, flooding and asthma.

“Inevitably as time passes, some trees have to be removed because they have become a safety hazard or have got too big and are threatening the foundations of buildings, so we need proper strategies to plant more and incorporate appropriately-sized trees into new developments.”

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