Westminster arboriculture manager honoured at London Mayor's RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Awards

Paul Akers, arboricultural manager for Westminster City Council has scooped an award at the London Mayor's RE:LEAF Tree and Woodland Awards, launched to reward green space projects in the capital. 

The London Tree Officers Association Individual Commitment Award recognises an individual employed professionally within London who has shown consistent dedication and commitment over a prolonged period.

Akers has worked at Westminster City Council for 40 years improving the treescape of the borough. He was a founding member of the association and one of the first arboriculturalists in London, so has been a trailblazer in the sector.

The awards, supported by Boris Johnson and the Forestry Commission, celebrate the community groups, businesses and individuals who have promoted and enhanced the conservation and management of trees and woodlands in London over the last year.

The RE:LEAF programme saw 10,000 new street trees planted during Johnson's first term. With an additional £2m investment this term, the Mayor is continuing his RE:LEAF community grant scheme, which last year saw 750 volunteers help to plant 2,500 trees in projects across 16 boroughs.

Plans are  underway to plant a further 10,000 new street trees by 2015.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Trees and greenery are essential to maintaining London’s status as the best big city in the world. They provide shade, improve air quality and make London a more attractive place to live, work and do business in. Thanks to the tremendous hard work of thousands of volunteers, community groups and local businesses the capital is getting leafier by the year."

The awards fall during the first ever London Tree Week.

The award categories and winners are:

Street Tree Award - projects that improve the street scene and are valued by local residents and/or businesses

Winner: W1W Tree Planting Initiative - Marylebone – for a project that local residents and businesses clearly value and provides benefits to local people and those working / travelling through the area. It has secured a range of funding for planting and to ensure long term maintenance. It has also gained a high profile that continues to generate further successes - including a planting event this morning, attended by David Heath, Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Community Award - An award for projects that have been inspired, driven, and delivered by local community groups

Winner: Friends of South Hill Wood and Kingswood Glen - Bromley – for a project that clearly involves the community in tackling challenging woodland issues, delivers practical management and demonstrates long term project sustainability

RE:LEAF Urban Forestry Award - The group agreed a special award, which was submitted under the Community Award category, as it was unique and deserved special recognition for effective partnership working between local community groups, developers and a local authority.

Winner: "The Balfour Street Resident's Group, the Environmental Action Network and Forestbank" - Southwark and Elephant and Castle – for the most innovative and effective community action to protect the urban forest in London.

Creative Award - Criteria: For the most innovative and creative piece of work that evokes the value and beauty of trees in London

Winner: Ulmus londinium video – for an innovative 13 minute presentation of facts about elm. The video highlights the range of ways in which trees, and elm in particular, play a part in people’s lives in the entire London area.

RE:LEAF Acorn Award - For an individual member of the public who has made a particular contribution to promoting or conserving trees

Winner: Mark Gazeleh – for his long term, unwavering work to improve the environment in the Marylebone area. He has engaged local individuals, businesses and the community, as well as attracting a high PR profile

Tree Council Trees & Learning Award - Projects that engage and involve children

Winner: Garden Classroom Tree & Woodland inspired literacy, numeracy and drama programme in Islington and Hackney for an exemplary learning project across a wide range of curriculum topics, with an imaginative use of trees at the heart of the educative process. The project continues to develop and broaden its scope for the benefit of children

For a full list of RE:LEAF Award winners, visit: www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/urban-space/releaf-london/

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