Mid Suffolk newborn tree gifts among most successful schemes in country

Malandra Mortlock (far left) and her son Zeke join Mid Suffolk District Council leader Nick Gowrley

Malandra Mortlock (far left) and her son Zeke join Mid Suffolk District Council leader Nick Gowrley (centre) and cabinet member for environment David Burn to launch the Tree for Life scheme. Picture: MSDC - Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council

More than 160 fruit trees have been gifted to families in Mid Suffolk in honour of their newborns last year, making it one of the most successful council tree schemes in the country.

Mid Suffolk District Council piloted the Tree for Life project where families who gave birth to, or adopted, a new child in 2018 could claim a free fruit tree to plant in their garden or community gardens.

Final figures revealed the pilot generated 166 successful applications – the equivalent of 21% of new births expected in the district last year.

Bosses behind the project said a comparable scheme in Cambridge only had 24 applications in its first year (2% of eligible families) and seven years in had 180 applications.

Families collected the trees from Wattisfield over the last two weekends.

Councillor David Burn, cabinet member for environment, said: “The wonderful response we’ve had to this pilot scheme has greatly exceeded our expectations.

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“To be celebrating in this way the arrival of more than one in five new babies in our district is outstanding, especially as this is the first year we’ve done it.

“Just like the new life they symbolise, these trees will settle in and begin to flourish over the coming years.

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“They will go on to make important contributions in many ways to our quality of life. I am confident these ’baby’ trees and the children they represent will soon be playing their part in making Mid Suffolk a better place.”

The scheme was originally put forward by the council’s Green group two years ago and was formally launched by the Conservative administration last year.

As well as providing something that can grow along with each newborn, the trees also aim to promote local food productions and biodiversity.

Andrew Stringer, Green councillor, said: “We are obviously delighted – this just goes to prove that smaller political groups can get their ideas implemented, what a great example of different political groups working together to achieve a positive outcome.

“We are especially pleased how the staff have taken our draft policy and made it even better, with over one on every five children born in Mid Suffolk successfully claiming a tree, this makes this one of the most successful tree schemes in the country.”

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