Manchester's Tree Change: From an Industrial to a Green Revolution - National Tree Day Blog

Manchester's Tree Change: From an Industrial to a Green Revolution

Manchester is leading the way for UK cities with a plan to plant three million trees, taking the city from a past of industrial grey to a future of vibrant green.

The heart of Manchester once beat to the rhythm of cotton mills, powered by nearby coalfields, which created a noisy, polluted and grey city that quickly fell into a depressed state once the mills closed for good.

In recent years the city has undergone a cultural renaissance with a revived city centre, nightlife and café culture. A green revolution is now sweeping the city with plans to plant three million trees (one for each citizen) over the next 25 years, with an additional 2,000 hectares of neglected existing woodland also being revived.

The project is already underway with 94,380 treesin the ground, including tree-lined streets and fruit trees. An important aim of the project is to connect residents to nature and engage them in the planting and care of the trees.

The City of Trees director Tony Hothersall is working in partnership with other local organisations to ensure the appropriate positioning and longevity of the trees.

"It is really about planting trees wherever it's appropriate to put trees," Hothersall says in an interview with the BBC. "What is really important is it's about the right tree in the right place."

One of the city’s most ambitious projects is to create a City Forest Park, reclaiming a neglected industrial wasteland and creating an 800 acre green urban space that will be bigger than London’s Hyde Park.

Around the world cities are recognising the many environmental, social and financial benefits of growing their urban canopies. Projects such as Melbourne’s Open Space program which converts unused pockets of city land into green spaces, or China’s Green Wall program which aims to combat the effects of air pollution and desertification.

Positive Reasons To Plant Trees

  • Environmental - trees clean the air, sequester carbon, provide biodiversity and cool our cities, negating some of the impacts of climate change.
  • Financial – property prices increase in leafy suburbs. Cafes, bars and retail spaces are more attractive to customers with green outdoor areas.
  • Community – mental health and wellbeing outcomes improve when people are connected with nature. Crime rates decrease in greener suburbs and families spend more time outdoors when they have local green spaces.

Positive Action


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Claire Bell

Claire is Planet Ark's Recycling Campaign Manager. After working in the communications industry and raising a young family, she joined Planet Ark to follow her passion for helping the environment.