No single Government department is responsible for the planting of trees in the urban environment, although Defra has general responsibility for forestry and tree health issues in England. The Government’s Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement of January 2013 recognised the social and environmental benefits of urban trees. The Government has backed this up by supporting charities and community groups to plant one million new trees through the Big Tree Plant, many in urban areas of the greatest deprivation. This is, however, only a fraction of the total number of urban trees in England, the vast majority of which will have been planted by local authorities or private landowners.
As in rural areas, the care of urban trees principally falls to the owner of the land on which they are planted, so the care of trees in our cities’ streets and public parks is generally the responsibility of the local authority. There are also numerous instances of Government bodies such as the Forestry Commission and the Animal and Plant Health Agency working closely with local authorities and landowners to address tree and plant health issues in their area. For example, the Forestry Commission has been working closely with local authorities in London on oak processionary moth.