A FOREST big enough to cover a quarter of the Meadows is set to be created in the Capital. The massive project will see tens of thousands of new trees taking root and cutting a swathe of green across the city.
This will be no picnic spot however, instead this forest will be spread out across the city as a way of covering up the Capital’s tram line.
Around 25,000 saplings and semi-mature trees will border the line from Edinburgh Airport to St Andrew Square under council plans to “integrate the tram route into the fabric of the city”.
A total of 3321 trees had to be felled along the nine-mile route to accommodate tram infrastructure and stops. They will now be replaced – on a net eight-to-one ratio – in Constitution Street, Leith Walk, Picardy Place, Atholl Crescent, Coates Crescent, Haymarket, Murrayfield, Balgreen, Saughton, Edinburgh Park, Gyle, Gogarburn, Ingliston and Edinburgh Airport.
The largest number will be put in place around Edinburgh Park and Gogarburn, where the council is removing 1229 trees but will plant 13,833 replacements.
Most of the replanting project will be covered by the tram budget but an additional £97,550 will have to be met from the services for communities capital and revenue budgets to seed around 1800 trees.
The news comes months after tram workers sparked outrage by chopping down trees that lined prestigious city-centre addresses.
The removal of 23 mature trees from the West End’s Coates Crescent and Atholl Crescent provoked a fierce backlash despite council assurances it was necessary to install a tram stop.
Council chiefs said in January there would be a net total of 50,000 more trees planted along the route than there had been previously.
Alison Johnstone, Lothians Green MSP, who pursued the issue while sitting on the city council, welcomed the news but questioned why the earlier figure had now been halved.
“While warmly welcoming the number of trees overall, it would be good to understand why this has been reduced from the amounts signalled in earlier council reports,” she said.
“The city has not been looking its best for the past couple of years. Edinburgh is well known for being a green city and we want to maintain that reputation.
“Here we have an opportunity to introduce more trees into the city, which will increase bird life and help with air quality – and given we have six air quality management areas that can only be a good thing.
“Whatever the number of trees we’ve had in the past, we are always looking to improve the city’s environmental and visual impact.”
The council said the 50,000 figure was never a definitive figure. A spokesman said: “The tram project takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. Following extensive consultation and planning, eight trees will be planted for every one removed – far exceeding the requirements set out in the Tram Act.
”Many of those felled were poor quality self-seeded trees whereas the replacement stock will include a broad range of species, improving biodiversity along the length of the route.”