Trees for Cities

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Trees for Cities
TFC Logo Small Dark-Green.jpg
Formation 1993
Legal status Non-profit company and registered charity
Purpose Create greener cities
Region served
UK, world
Chief Executive
David J. Elliot (as of 2014)
Main organ
Board of Trustees

Trees for Cities is a tree planting charity based in the United Kingdom. It is the only charity working on an international scale to create greener cities[1]. Since 1993, they have engaged over 80,000 volunteers to plant over 840,000 urban trees in parks, streets, schools and housing estates. The charity also runs an Edible Playgrounds programme[2], which aims to inspire school children to grow and eat healthy food, as well as connecting with nature.


Trees for Cities was founded in 1993 by a group of four friends: Jake Kempston, Belinda Winder, Jane Bruton and Julian Blake. The original inspiration came from Jake Kempston who approached the others to help him in a mission to 'plant more trees in London'. For the first five or so years, the charity raised funds through its well-known and much-loved parties. The charity was initially called Trees for London[3] to "advance the education of the public in the appreciation of trees and their amenity value, and in furtherance of this the planting and protection of trees everywhere, and in particular inner city areas".[3] In 2003, the charity changed its name to Trees for Cities to reflect a growth in activities in cities across the UK and across the globe. In 2009, Sharon Johnson replaced Graham Simmonds as Chief Executive. She was replaced as Chief Executive by David J.Elliot in 2014.[4]

The charity has a history of unusual office locations. Originally based on HMS Belfast,[5] the charity now operates from Prince Consort Lodge, a house located in Kennington Park, Kennington, in London, England. They also have offices in Ruskin Park, Lambeth, London.


In addition to tree planting, the charity is involved in activities with schools and community groups and campaigning.

Urban Forests[edit]

Trees for Cities' work focuses on planting trees and greening community spaces where the social and environmental impact on local people is greatest. By engaging volunteers and planting 75,000 urban trees worldwide each year, they are building resilience against threats facing the natural environment. Planting a range of tree species enhances structural and functional diversity in woodlands and on city streets, as well as building resistance to pests and disease.

Edible Playgrounds[edit]

Edible Playgrounds transform areas in school grounds into vibrant outdoor spaces that excite and teach children about growing and eating healthy food. By instilling healthy eating habits at an early age, Edible Playgrounds can help to tackle obesity, food poverty and lack of access to nature head on, as well as providing a platform for fun and engaging lessons that support the school curriculum. Independent research among participating schools shows that 72% of schools said that children were more likely to choose fruits over less healthy snacks while 94% of schools said that pupils had improved attitudes towards healthy living[6]. Trees for Cities has built 30 Edible Playgrounds, supporting more than 10,000 children across the UK, and dozens more are on the way.


Trees for Cities has a number of high-profile patrons, including Neil Fox, Diarmuid Gavin, Jamie Oliver, Jon Snow and Richard Rogers. The charity was responsible for the Tree-athlon, a 5k annual fun run[7], held in Leeds, Manchester and London. In Battersea Park on 18 September 2010, it set the world record for the largest ever barefoot race, with 278 participants completing a 100m grass circuit.[8] The charity sends out a monthly newsletter to its followers, titled 'Tree Times'.


Trees for Cities has projects throughout Greater London, as well as in Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Reading and Sheffield. The charity's global reach extends to Ica in Peru, La Paz in Bolivia, Nairobi in Kenya and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

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