On Wednesday 30th of March, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan joined in to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee” at Gascoigne Primary School in Barking as London is unveiled as a “Champion City” under The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative.

The Mayor visited the school to plant Jubilee trees and learn about a pioneering project led by QGC Partner Trees for Cities (TfC) which has been developed to mitigate against the detrimental effect of air pollution, particularly on children. TfC’s Planting Healthy Air Programme involves redesigning playgrounds to reduce the impact of poor air quality by introducing green infrastructure, such as trees and hedgerows.

The Queen’s Green Canopy launched a “Champion Cities” programme to celebrate some of the nation’s outstanding cities which have trees and woodland as a central part of their plans for green spaces.

Working with our partner TfC, The Queen’s Green Canopy is continuing its programme to support urban greening in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation and low canopy cover. Gascoigne is one of Britain’s largest primary schools with over 1,100 pupils. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has the highest Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) in London. Every neighbourhood in the Gascoigne ward where the school is situated is among the 20% most deprived in the UK and some neighbourhoods are in 10% of the most deprived.

The trees planted at Gascoigne Primary School reflect London’s ambitious target to increase tree canopy cover by 10 percent and support ambitions to become a net zero carbon city by 2030.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Planting trees plays a vital role in our efforts to tackle climate change and air pollution and I’m delighted that London has been made a Champion City for The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. This is a fitting way to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and I’m pleased to be joining pupils at Gascoigne Primary School to create a healthier, more beautiful and wildlife friendly school environment.”

David Elliot, Trees for Cities, said: “We are delighted that London has been awarded Champion City status by The Queen’s Green Canopy. We welcome the Mayor of London to our ground-breaking Planting Healthy Air Project at Gascoigne Primary School, which provides a showcase for the multitude of greening activities taking root across the capital. Through supporting the planting of urban trees as a legacy to Her Majesty’s Service to the nation, Trees for Cities is helping to send a powerful message to young people to connect with urban nature and to re-green the city for future generations.”

Other UK cities which have been awarded “Champion” status so far include Aberdeen, Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Chester, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Leicester, Newcastle, Perth, Preston, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Worcester and York.


The London Environment Strategy sets out a target to increase the area of London’s land covered by trees by 10 per cent by 2050 (from 20 percent to 22 percent). This equates to planting an additional 3,320 hectares of trees.

Since 2016, over 420,000 trees have been planted across London funded by the Greater London Authority, including 84 hectares of new publicly accessible woodland.

London has recently been awarded funding through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund to support the planting of 7500 new street trees across 23 boroughs by March 2023.

London’s urban forest is an integral part of the city’s green infrastructure and currently covers around 21% of London.

The London Urban Forest Plan, published in 2020, sets out the goals and priority actions needed to protect, manage and expand the capital’s urban forest. The London Urban Forest Partnership, organisations with a strategic interest in the capital’s trees and woodlands are co-ordinating delivery of the plan, collaborating with others responsible for the stewardship of London’s urban forest and the wider urban forest community.

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