He said: "The policy guidance is focused on the homes themselves, with quite high standards to meet, but the space around them is often ill-planned, dysfunctional and uninviting."
Responding to concern about the lack of formal tree management in particular, the consultancy surveyed the sector. It found that:
- Some 57 per cent of housing associations have no formally qualified staff to manage trees, while in 10 per cent no one takes responsibility for trees.
- Only six per cent have a staff member with a level 3 or higher arboricultural qualification.
- Some 59 per cent have a tree inventory.
- Some 72 per cent have a tree maintenance budget, averaging £72,000 a year, but only five per cent draw on this to plant trees.
In response, Barton recommended that all housing associations should:
- Have at least one staff member who holds a relevant qualification.
- Have a geographic information system-based tree inventory.
- Develop a tree strategy in consultation with local residents.
Having put these points to a recent housing association conference, Barton said: "They were quite receptive, but I probably wasn't telling them anything that they didn't already know."