The Black Country i-Tree Project

Location: Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton

Overview

The Black Country has a sprawling and diverse urban forest, with tree canopy covering 7,173 ha. The four districts of Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, and Sandwell came together under the Black Country Consortium to better understand he existing urban forest. The perception of the Black Country and its history is often one of heavy industry, however this study has shown the area in a new light. It acts as a crucial step in managing and improving the urban forest for the benefit of its residents. It also shows that it is never too late to change the image of an area by choosing to prioritise the urban forest.

A partnership approach
This study was led by The Black Country Consortium and funded by The Woodland Trust. It involved a partnership between Treeconomics, Forest Research, Birmingham Tree People, and Barton Hyatt Associates. Teams of volunteers completed the fieldwork.

The full story
This project was a study of the four council regions within the Black Country; Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and the City of Wolverhampton. A report was produced for each council, and for the Black Country as a whole. Fliers were created to highlight the headline figures in a more accessible manner. Primarily this was a tree study, which investigated the structure and composition of the urban forest, and the ecosystem services it provides. It also included an amenity valuation (CAVAT), and analysis of the pests and diseases threatening the urban forest.

The amenity value
This report highlighted the ecosystem services provided by trees across the Black Country; however a major outcome was bringing attention to the worth of the trees themselves. The replacement cost does not take account of the value of trees and green spaces to people’s mental and physical wellbeing, for their contribution to making cities enjoyable and vibrant places to live. This is what the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) method attempts to quantify by including the size, accessibility, and condition of the trees. These reports highlight this value, and aim to influence the ways in which councils and private landholders value their tree resources.

The perception of the Black Country is often one of heavy industry, but the region is predominantly green; one of trees and open spaces. It is this image that we wish to see brought to the forefront, enhancing green assets and making them more accessible to local people and visitors.”

The public view

Public engagement was a huge priority for the Black Country, and involving local volunteers in the data collection process was key. Project outcomes were communicated via printed flyers which were distributed in the local community; there were also a number of press releases which included articles and interviews, bringing attention to the work and its significance for the residents of the Black Country.

Moving forward

The Black Country project showcases how i-Tree Eco can be used to bring together multiple local councils with common goals, in order to achieve a comprehensive analysis of an urban forest.  The Black Country i-Tree Project has provided a catalyst for the development of cohesive objectives, management strategies, and targets for the area.  The information within the report has helped to shape policies and strategies which positively impact tree health, ecosystem service provision, diversity, and amenity value, across the Black Country.

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The Black Country i-Tree Project

Download the report here.

Treeconomics is the go-to organisation for the valuing of trees in towns and cities. We specialise in all aspects of urban forest management and offer a range of services, from canopy cover assessments through to comprehensive management plans.